Jul 8, 2022

The importance of giving (and receiving) feedback in mentoring

Feedback – it’s something that shouldn’t be missed when entering the mentoring relationship. The goal of mentoring is to develop and grow in both your professional and personal lives. However, growth doesn’t work without proper feedback. It’s essential to hear the other side and, even more important, to learn to speak out for yourself. Let’s dig deeper into why giving and receiving feedback in mentoring is crucial. 

The goal of feedback in mentoring

To understand the goal of feedback it’s first needed to understand the purpose of mentoring. Why do we enter into the mentoring relationship? There can be many smaller specific goals set depending on the area and professional level, but the main aim remains the same for everyone – to build wisdom. 

Mentees learn new skills and understand another point of view, applying gained knowledge and experience to new situations and processes. Mentors also benefit from the relationship, learning other perspectives and gaining leadership skills. Feedback is crucial for both parties; it has the same importance for a mentee as for a mentor. An open and trustworthy mentoring relationship requires both the mentor and mentee to provide and receive feedback.

Michaela Malatin, Femme Palette Mentor and Tech Project Manager at Red Hat, commented, “A mentor is an observer and, at the same time, the source of experience a mentee would like to gain in their next professional steps. This means that a mentee can get a competitive advantage, stay informed about obstacles on their career path and how to avoid these obstacles. But it’s all done through the form of two-sided feedback – asking, applying knowledge in practice, and asking again.”

The importance of feedback for a mentee

For a mentee, feedback means everything. It becomes the crucial part of mentoring, as there's no growth and development without feedback – what's the main point of being involved in the mentoring relationship. That's why a mentee needs to learn to accept feedback from a mentor and give feedback to get the best results. 

For some, feedback might be a sensitive topic, especially regarding what seems "negative" feedback. However, the goal of a mentee is to understand that everything that happens in the mentoring relationship is for the sake of a mentee. Constructive feedback aims to encourage a mentee to learn from it and do something differently next time. It's also essential to learn to accept positive feedback, acknowledge wins, and remember it as often as possible. 

The same comes with providing feedback. A mentee needs to understand if something is missing or something wasn't shared in a way a mentee is comfortable with – it's time to speak up. Every relationship, including mentoring, should be healthy, where two parties can express themselves and share openly what's on their minds. 

Michaela added, "Feedback for a mentee means learning how to communicate, asking the right questions, and getting confident. It can also help with critical listening, which is a significant advantage for the future career."

The importance of feedback for a mentor

A mentor who is more experienced in the professional career must become a feedback role model in the mentoring relationship. A mentor needs to provide feedback frequently, keep it balanced and factual, and be sincere. A mentor also shouldn't overwhelm a mentee with feedback and limit it to one or two action points that the mentee can do about it. 

As the mentoring relationship is not one-sided, a mentor must expect to get feedback from a mentee and stay open-minded. A mentee might have many questions about how to handle some aspects of the job, or it can also relate personally to a mentor, how sessions are structured, or how a mentor speaks to a mentee. 

Michaela commented, "A mentor must have out-of-the-box thinking. Every mentee comes from an unknown background; that's why mentors shouldn't be surprised by the questions that will give them new perspectives on their expertise."

Would you like to get into the mentoring relationship, receive and give much-appreciated feedback? Check out the Femme Palette Mentoring Program that will find you the mentor based on your needs, helping you grow within your career and achieve the professional goals you set. 

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