There are times in the mentoring relationship when the Mentor sees a need to suggest changes to his Mentee’s behavior. It may be a simple characteristic such as a consistent improper use of a word or phrase to career-limiting characteristics such as an inability to eat properly in a restaurant. Any behavior the Mentor sees and considers inappropriate is potentially a topic for feedback.
There are, however, ways to give feedback that can ruin a good relationship or conversely, improve it. Constructive feedback should never be given on the spur of the moment. It must be planned.
Below are some steps on how to provide constructive feedback.
Step 1: Identify the behavior for which you want to give feedback
Make sure you describe and focus your feedback in terms of behavior.
I have noticed that when we are out for lunch and you get excited about a topic that you talk while chewing your food.
Step 2: Describe the effects of the behavior
I find that I don’t listen to what you’re saying, but rather focus on the fact that there is food in your mouth.
Step 3: Describe the change in behavior you are recommending
In a professional setting, you should finish what you’re eating before speaking or responding to someone.
Double-check your statements to make sure you are not using judgmental language or making generalizations. Then begin to deliver the feedback keeping the following tips in mind:
- Pick your time and place – it is a good idea to give feedback when you are both in a good frame of mind and in a private Do not attempt to give feedback in the heat of the moment, particularly if you are upset or angry. Wait until you are both calm.
- Give your Mentee a “heads up” that you want to give him some feedback so he is prepared to listen.
- Remember to listen and to be empathetic, but do not be sidetracked with apologies or excuses.
- Acknowledge what your Mentee is saying, but stay on track with the delivery of the feedback.
- Get feedback on your After some time has passed, ask your Mentee how he feels about the experience, including what worked and what you could do better.