M2.05. Recording and reviewing the mentoring process
3. Feedback in the learning progress assessment and in the mentoring process
In order to make self-improvement and achievement of assumed objectives conscious and motivating, it is necessary to provide the mentee with constructive feedback. Feedback provision constitutes one of the most important tools for the mentor's disposal, allowing for affecting the mentee's competences and behaviour, notifying it of its progress and what else it should learn. The mentee must accept (with understanding) feedback, approve the transferred content and respond to feedback in the form of specific activities (sometimes adjustment of adopted goals).
Feedback constitutes one of communication methods. Communication is a key element of mentoring, but when conducted incorrectly it may constitute a serious barrier to it. The most frequent communication errors affecting the mentoring process concern:
- lack of skill to take a look at the situation from the speaker's perspective (inability to empathise with somebody)
- susceptibility to emotions
- perceptual difficulties, but also mood
- use of stereotypes
- criticising, threatening and insulting the speaker
- interrupting and confrontational attitude
- failure to listen and selective attention
- decision-making for the other person
- advice offering
- being convinced of one's right (without orientation to dialogue)
- lack of a clearly specified purpose of conversation (communication)
Feedback constitutes the most important tool at the mentor's disposal in order to provide the mentee with information on progress and assessment of activities in the mentoring process.
To be effective, feedback must meet the following criteria:
- The mentor's motives must be clear, there is no place for such emotions as anger or resentment.
- Statement must be coherent – verbal and non-verbal signs should be compliant with each other, moreover permanent eye contact is recommended.
- The speaker (here mentor) should speak only in its own name, use the I-message, e.g. "I don't see any commitment from your side..."
- Feedback should be oriented towards the future and one's expectations, instead of past errors and their reproaching.
- Feedback should help, instead of destroying interpersonal relations, that is why it should be problem-oriented, not people-oriented. Feedback should concern an issue, task, behaviour, instead of a person or feature that it has.
- Feedback should indicate specific behaviour on which the given mentee may have influence. It should refer to a specific situation, as generalisation and such phrases as "always", "everybody", "never", received by the mentee as unfair and offending, should be avoided.
- Feedback should include the comparison with an applicable standard, and not with other employees, as it should be describing, not assessing.
- Remember that messages (should be simple) should be addressed only to the interested person.
- Feedback should occur shortly after an event it concerns, it should include justifications so that an addressee (mentee) may understand why the communicated information is important.
- Feedback should be provided in a deliberate and accurate way, it should never transform into providing advice
- One should ensure (by asking questions) that an interlocutor understood what one wanted to say.
- Remember that nothing works better than one's own example – so care about coherence of what you expect with an example you give with your behaviour.