Giving and receiving feedback is a core element to the mentoring scheme. Part of the role of the mentor is to help the mentee learn and develop through identifying their own strengths and weaknesses, wins and mistakes.

When done effectively and constructively, feedback can be motivating and inspiring, and can offer concrete examples of how the mentee should continue or amend their actions.

When is the best time to give feedback?

There is no set deadline in which to give feedback, however the advice would be to provide feedback regularly and not only once the mentee asks for it. Timely feedback can allow the mentee to address and potentially adapt their behaviour immediately, rather than waiting until they ask for it following struggle or poor professional feedback.

How do I give feedback constructively and effectively?

6 tips for giving feedback to your mentee:

  1. Ensure your mentee knows to expect feedback from you and explain the value of feedback to their progression. Ask that they be receptive to constructive feedback and encourage them to ask questions if they don’t understand.
  2. Use the start, stop, continue template to document feedback in a structured way – think about things your mentor should stop doing or change, what things can they start doing to achieve the required result, and what are they currently doing well that they should continue? Make sure you give a balance of all three areas to ensure the feedback provides praise as well as constructive criticism.
  3. Timely feedback will enable the mentee to address the situation quickly whilst the memory is still fresh in their mind, and therefore will give them a better chance of developing.
  4. Be honest and sincere. False praise can sound forced and may undermine your credibility with your mentee. Offer genuine compliments and genuine critique.
  5. Ask for their feedback or thoughts on what you have said. Feedback should be a conversation rather than an instruction manual. If your mentee is engaged in a dialogue with you, they will be more motivated to act on the feedback you give and more likely to have a good understanding of why their action is being discussed.
  6. Provide two to three action points per session – any more can be overwhelming. The start, stop, continue template allows you to list three feedback points for each area.

Receiving feedback

As a mentee, it is important that you take on feedback from your mentor and act on it to improve your work performance. The below points address best practice around receiving feedback:

  • Actively listen – don’t just wait for your turn to speak
  • Make sure you understand the feedback you receive; it can be useful to repeat or paraphrase what your mentor has said back to them to ensure you understood them correctly. If there is anything you’re unsure about, ask your mentor to clarify or repeat what they said
  • Once the feedback has been issued, incorporate any actions into your goal setting template. This makes sure that any actions required are documented and timelines are set. Feedback is most helpful when you use it to make changes to your work. You can ask your mentor to help you agree on next steps if you’re unsure how to action what has been said
  • There may be occasions where you disagree with the feedback you receive. Try to avoid being defensive and consider the feedback calmly. Your mentor is giving you feedback to help you with your future career, so try to be objective and consider the feedback in relation to progressing your career, rather than as a personal attack
  • If you’ve been unhappy with some feedback you received, it sometimes helps to ask if you can make another appointment to discuss the feedback on a separate occasion once you have had time to digest the information and are more able to approach the discussion objectively. You can also share the feedback with a trusted peer or colleague and ask for their point of view
  • It is always worth thanking your mentor for their time and insight, even if you do not agree with the feedback you receive. As with any long-term relationship, it is important to be receptive to different viewpoints, and to keep an open dialogue, especially if you find yourself and your mentor in disagreement about a particular piece of feedback