Mentoring relationships

How to effectively provide feedback to your mentor

Providing timely, accurate, and specific feedback can be what separates a successful mentoring relationship from one that fizzles out. Here are 8 tips and principles for effective mentor feedback.

Ryan Carruthers

November 15, 2022

Mentoring relationships need meaningful feedback between mentors and mentees to thrive. The relationship isn’t one-sided but involves a two-way value exchange. 

Quality feedback helps and makes a mentoring relationship more meaningful, stronger, and invaluable, but providing good feedback that edifies the relationship can be tricky to get right.

In this article, we will tell how you can get the most out of your mentoring relationship by providing effective feedback to your mentor.

 

Why is it important for mentees to provide feedback to their mentors?

Mentors share their experience and knowledge with the mentee to benefit the mentee. 

Meanwhile, the mentee helps the mentor by telling them what's working and what isn't. This two-way exchange of information and value helps both parties to get on the same page and proceed effectively.

Furthermore, it’s important that mentees try to express gratitude to their mentors. In an HBR article, they cite research saying, “mentors who receive gratitude are not only encouraged to remain committed to the current relationship, but also to connect with and invest in other mentees.” So, mentees should take it seriously when providing feedback to their mentors.

  • Evaluate and understand how a relationship will benefit you in the future;
  • Reflect, review, introspect, and determine if anything needs to be changed to make the relationship more effective;
  • Share it with your mentor and provide genuine feedback. 

Through this approach, you can foster and maintain a successful relationship with your mentor, learn more, improve performance, stay on track, and achieve your goals.

 

Principles of effective feedback for mentors

Below, we unpack the principles mentees should keep in mind when giving feedback to their mentors.

1. Be specific and descriptive

Feedback should be clear, specific, and based on what has been observed, both the action and its impact. 

Give descriptive feedback, not evaluative; feedback should be based on observed behavior and actions, not judgments. Own the feedback by using “I” statements.

2. Focus on the positive

Highlight your mentor’s positive contributions while acknowledging areas for improvement. 

Your discussions should begin by describing your mentor’s desired behaviors and actions.

3. Make it a collaborative discussion

If the purpose of your feedback is to facilitate a change in behavior or action, the change that occurs and how that change occurs should be based on a collaborative discussion between you and your mentor.

Remember that your role is to facilitate an open discussion about the required change, so explore possible alternatives with your mentor and assist with the evaluation of suggested courses of action. 

It is not your role to tell your mentor what has to happen or what should happen, but to facilitate your mentor developing their own solution.

4. Do it in a timely manner

In order for feedback to be effective, it must be provided as soon as possible after the behavior or action has been observed.

5. Show care

Feedback should be offered with the intent of assisting your mentor with creating positive change or reinforcing positive behavior. 

Feedback discussions should not be held when either party is angry or emotional.

6. Check for understanding

Make sure both parties understand the behavior and actions that occurred before closing the feedback discussion.

7. Follow-up

If the feedback discussion resulted in an action plan for a behavioral change there should be regular follow-up and support for the individual making that change.

 At Together, we know feedback is important, not just to mentoring relationships but to mentorship programs. If you’re running a mentorship program, it’s critical you have the resources in place to survey mentors and mentees and collect feedback. We’ve outlined 28 different mentoring survey questions you should ask participants during your program.

How to provide effective feedback for your mentor (8 tips)

Giving and receiving feedback can be a highly rewarding experience for mentors and mentees alike. 

Effective feedback is crucial to establish an atmosphere of mutual trust and understanding among both. Mentors want to guide mentees and help them succeed, and mentees want to learn how to succeed. 

A mentor can offer career development and personal growth advice, but a mentee can also evaluate their mentor's strengths and skills in that regard. 

Your mentor can use that feedback to determine if they are offering you the right guidance, skills, or work experience you need.

According to research, thoughtful feedback is one of the most valuable things you can give to your mentor.

Providing effective feedback to your mentor can be challenging, but you need to know how to do it well. 

Therefore, here are 8 effective feedback tips that will help you leverage your mentoring relationship to its full potential.

1. Be clear about your goals for the mentoring relationship

Mentors and mentees both have goals in a mentoring program, so discussing them clearly gives the relationship a clear direction. 

Setting clear goals for your mentoring relationship allows you to focus on a common purpose, increases accountability, and set clear expectations. 

2. Keep them updated

Keep your mentor updated, engaged, and excited. Try to write and email your mentor often. Keep it honest, short, and meaningful. 

They have chosen to devote their time, attention, and resources to you. Oftentimes, they're not aware of your goals, your struggles in reaching them, or your progress. 

Keeping them updated helps you both to stay on track with your progress as well as to get advice about any obstacles and challenges.

3. Highlight where they’ve helped you grow

If you think your mentor has helped you grow somewhere, they never know If you won’t tell them. 

Tell and highlight where your mentor helped you grow. By showing gratitude to your mentor regularly, you will be more likely to engage in prosocial behavior. 

Gratitude increases prosocial behavior because it helps people feel valued.

4. Ask for and normalize two-way feedback

Try to create a two-way street for feedback; ask them if they want feedback on their mentoring skills and if they can provide feedback to you, as the mentee. 

If they respond positively, start incorporating short comments into your follow-up emails about the most and least helpful features of your discussion. 

In this way, your mentor will be able to see how their approach is working and what adjustments they need to help you in the best manner possible.

5. Take notes during your conversation 

When you take notes during your conversation, this helps you to follow up in the future to update how you applied the advice they shared. 

So, take notes, highlight the main ideas and concepts, work on them and mention how they have helped you.

6. Set, Plan, and Follow a schedule of sessions

Decide how often you can provide mutual feedback to your mentor and let them know. Schedule a time in advance if possible. 

As a result, both of you can effectively prepare for the meetings, which allows giving each other logical and comprehensive feedback. 

If you respect your mentor's time and obligations, they will also be more receptive to your suggestions.

7. Address concerns as soon as possible

Your communication with your mentor and performance can be improved if you address concerns as they arise during feedback sessions. 

You can work together with your mentor to find potential solutions if you have information that clarifies the concern.

8. Be Flexible and Adaptable

You should learn to adapt to certain situations. For example, It would be beneficial to respond quickly to certain situations. 

If this is the case, it may be a good idea to reach out to the other person sooner rather than later to see if they are available to speak.

Tips to build a great mentoring relationship

Mentoring relationships are one of the most invaluable relationships of your life and career development. The purpose of mentoring programs or relationships is to develop your skills, network, and accelerate career development. Moreover, they give you the opportunity to learn from an experienced colleague. 

You need to learn how to operate in these relationships, and the experience will take time, reflection, and maybe some critical self-awareness. But it will all be worth it.

To make sure your mentorship relationship is successful, here are some highly effective tips that you can leverage to build a successful mentoring relationship

Want to bring mentorship to your workplace? 

We can’t deny the fact that mentorship is a sure-shot way to accelerate the performance and productivity of employees in any workplace. Not just that, mentorship comes with the benefits of gaining different perspectives, improving self-confidence, and increases job satisfaction.

Together makes it a whole lot easier to start and manage mentoring programs by effectively matching every employee with a relevant mentor from day one. If you’ve been struggling to bring mentorship to your workplace, Together can make managing a program a breeze.

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