constructive criticism can enhance the effectiveness of your relationship.
As a protege,
it is up to you to give your mentor feedback on how to best meet your
developmental needs and objectives. But before offering feedback, you
need to take inventory of your mentoring experience and your progress,
and identify what you need from your mentor to help you move forward.
This process will assist you in clearly defining the areas in which your
mentor is doing well and where he or she can do better, and it will also
help you offer feedback that is constructive.
There are a number of questions you can ask yourself that will help you
assess your mentor and your progress, including:
- Has my
mentor devoted the necessary time, energy, and effort to our partnership?
- How would
I rate the level of trust in our relationship?
- Does my
mentor give me developmental feedback in a helpful manner?
- What impact
has the mentoring relationship had on my job, my skills, and my overall
such questions will help you clarify your level of satisfaction with your
mentoring experience and prepare you for giving useful feedback to your
Like many proteges, you may find it difficult to give your mentor feedback,
especially if you have some dissatisfaction with the mentoring experience.
After all, your mentor is giving of his or her time, probably voluntarily,
and may be in a higher-level position than you. You don't want to seem
ungrateful for your mentor's efforts, but if there are difficulties, your
mentor should be informed of your concerns.
are steps for delivering feedback to your mentor in a tactful and confident
a clear and concise description of the specific issues on which you
wish to give feedback. For example, perhaps your mentor is not allowing
enough time to meet with you. Or perhaps your mentor lectures too much
and doesn't give you an opportunity to do your own thinking.
- Ask your
mentor's permission before you give feedback, so that your mentor will
be more open to your input. You can broach the subject simply by saying,
"I have some feedback I'd like to offer. Would you like to hear
stating any criticisms, express specifics about what your mentor is
doing that you appreciate: For example, you might say, "I like
it that when I bring up a concern, you really take me and the issue
seriously and offer ideas." Then, tell your mentor what is getting
in the way of his or her mentoring effectiveness. You might add, "It
would be even more helpful if you didn't describe your solutions and
ideas quite so thoroughly and instead asked me what I might do in a
thank your mentor for being open to the feedback, and together decide
how you can flag such issues as they arise in the future.
While it may seem easier to say that everything is great when it is not,
stating feelings clearly and asking for feedback from your mentor is key
to confronting the reality of what might be happening in the relationship.
One way for you and your mentor to test the condition of the relationship
is to revisit the goals of the partnership to see if renewal is appropriate.
Whether you decide to end, renew, or revive a mentoring relationship,
it must be done consciously, intentionally, and openly. Both you and your
mentor should continually assess your individual experiences and then
meet to share assessments and give each other feedback. From there, you
should jointly decide how to meet your mentoring needs, either by continuing
the relationship or by finding a new mentor.
Ambrose is a managing partner and Paula Moscinski is a senior consultant
at Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc., an organizational development consulting
firm that helps organizations create mentoring cultures.
2 N. Riverside Plaza, Ste. 1433
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Executive, September/October 2002