Each and every one of us working in children’s services will be a mentor at some stage – if you’re not already mentoring someone, you probably soon will be!! Mentoring is the process where a more experienced individual works closely with a lesser experienced individual to assist in training and general support. Every student studying children's services will need a good mentor to begin, or continue, a successful career in children's services.
Acting as a mentor to a colleague can only be effective if you develop a relationship that is based on positive and respectful communication practices as well as one that values each other’s opinions and their rights to have a differing point of view. Just because one of you may be more experienced and knowledgeable, doesn’t mean there isn’t an equal relationship. Even if you are the mentor with many years of experience, you can still learn from your mentoree!!
As a mentor you will be required to provide feedback to your mentoree. It is important to use the communication skills you have developed over time when offering your feedback to ensure no offence is taken and that it will be used to further progress the protégé in his/her development.
People often confuse feedback with criticism - probably because we often associate it with what we’ve done wrong rather than what we’ve done right. This is unfortunate!! Feedback should not be viewed as a personal assault or a list of errors, mistakes, or mishaps. And this can often be the case if it is provided by an unskilled communicator.
While the content of the feedback can be negative, the delivery can always be constructive. If it’s not, the feedback may be rejected or be received as an insult, which can fuel other issues and problems that may create a barrier to learning.
Constructive feedback is most useful and beneficial to the receiver because it provides encouragement, support, will give suggestions for corrective measures and future direction. Your role as mentor is to be honest with your mentoree. You will need to offer constructive advice to assist them in improving their performance or skills.
Constructive feedback is:
- given with a goal of improvement
- timely in delivery
- honest and respectful
- clear and focuses on the issue
- accuses the mentoree and may be personal
- judgmental and subjective
- undermines the self-esteem of the mentoree
- leaves the issue unresolved (or the mentoree is unsure how to proceed).
The importance of providing feedback to your mentoree is crucial to their ongoing development and growth. In the competitive environment that services operate, constructive feedback is essential for continuous improvement of all concerned.
Good mentoring relationships and constructive feedback are foundation building blocks to quality improvement and good practice.
The following article is from NCAC archive on the ACECQA website. While it addresses Performance Management, it is very relevant to the current topic and can be used as further reading: http://ncac.acecqa.gov.au/educator-resources/pcf-articles/putting_people_into_performance_mgt_June2010.pdf
(C) ACCCO 2012