Building Quality Feedback into Mentoring Relationships

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This is Part 8 of our 10-part series on the 10 Key Qualities and Habits of a Highly Effective Mentor. Read Part 7 here.

In our last post, we looked at how the most effective mentors are life-long learners; they’re dedicated to their own success (and therefore invested in that of others), value ongoing learning and growth, and set and achieve both personal and professional goals.

In this post, we’ll look at how mentors can successfully build quality feedback into their mentoring. Quality feedback is priceless because it clarifies expectations, helps people learn from their mistakes, and builds confidence. It also allows mentees to more effectively take what their mentors say and turn it into action.

“Millennials want feedback. They want it now and they want it consistently, or they’ll simply leave. Giving Millennials feedback is a very different game from what we knew in the past.”  – Karl Moore, ​Forbes

Let’s see how the best mentors are employing this technique in their everyday mentoring relationships.

Quality 8: They provide quality feedback

1. They bring honesty with diplomacy

mentee to be candid and straightforward. Dispense with formalities and really help facilitate an open, even lively dialogue—a give-and-take—and don’t beat around the bush in offering your constructive feedback, good and bad. Say what you know your mentee needs to hear, not what you think they want to hear. Be willing to debate and discuss, but in a tactful way. Provide useful, honest guidance while ensuring that your mentee takes the reins and makes their own decisions as to the next steps and/or the best course of action for themselves.

2. They provide guidance and constructive feedback

One of the key responsibilities of a good mentor is to provide guidance and constructive, S.M.A.R.T. feedback to their mentee. This is where the mentee will most likely grow the most—by identifying their current strengths and weaknesses, they’ll learn how to use them to make themselves successful in their respective fields. Good mentors possess excellent communication skills and can adjust their communication to the personality style of the mentee. A good mentor will also provide the mentee with challenges that foster professional development and a feeling of accomplishment in learning the field. As the mentee, it’s crucial that you listen to this feedback, don’t take it personally, and consider it with a level head. Remember, your mentor’s feedback is coming from the right place.

3. They maintain appropriate boundaries

Remember that a mentoring relationship differs from a friendship. Yes, you can like and care about your mentee and want to see them succeed, but that doesn’t mean you have to socialise with your mentee or follow or friend them on every social media site. LinkedIn, specifically designed for business networking, maybe a more appropriate connection to establish with your mentee. Also, ensure that there’s no hidden agenda or ulterior motives involved in this relationship: Outside of the mentor-mentee relationship, you don’t owe your mentee any favours, and they don’t owe you anything except their gratitude. You can be an advocate for your mentee while still retaining your objectivity and fairness and not unjustly influencing any process either of you may be involved in.

4. They dish out encouragement

Effective mentors possess the ability to build up mentees’ self-esteem and encourage them. This is a quintessential trait of a mentor and helps them embody the role of both coach and advocate for their mentees. Mentors should not give false or inflated praise, but they should always be encouraging.

Harnessing the ability to be diplomatic while honest, provide feedback and guidance, and maintain boundaries all while continuing to give encouragement can be a delicate balance, but the best mentors find a way! If you’re lucky enough to have a mentor like this, cherish them! They are truly a rare breed.

Ready to establish a culture of mentoring at your organisation? Why not start by sharing this series with your HR team?

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Em is our Marketing Manager at Mentorloop. That's a lot of 'm's! | She is passionate about crafting messages, crafternoons and craft beer.

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