How to Give Difficult Feedback to Someone Who You're Mentoring

In this blog post, we'll provide some critical tips on how you can successfully deliver harsh but necessary critiques without damaging the mentor-mentee dynamic.

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Giving difficult feedback can be a harrowing experience for anyone, and it's incredibly challenging to give honest feedback to someone you are mentoring. After all, many mentors want their mentees to succeed in life and avoid giving direct criticism out of concern that they may hurt their feelings or jeopardise the relationship.

However, learning to give constructive feedback is an essential skill for successful mentors and should be noticed. In this blog post, we'll provide some critical tips on how you can successfully deliver harsh but necessary critiques without damaging the mentor-mentee dynamic.

1. Reflect on What You Want to Achieve

It's important to reflect on your ultimate goal when giving difficult feedback. If you want to help someone become more successful, this should be your primary focus while providing criticism.

For example, if their social media profile photo isn't flattering and could cause a negative reaction from potential employers or customers, then the best course of action would be to suggest an alternate photo that portrays them in a more professional light.

Give them steps to follow when selecting the right photo. Ensure that they understand the importance of having an appropriate profile picture.

2. Put Yourself in Their Shoes (Talk about building trust)

It's also important to put yourself in your mentee's shoes while delivering difficult feedback. This will help you understand why they may have made a mistake and give you a better understanding of what kind of message they need to make positive changes.

Additionally, it will help build trust between the two of you and make them more likely to accept your feedback. People respond better when they feel understood.

3. Choose the Right Time & Place

Timing is everything when it comes to difficult feedback. Don't ambush your mentee with criticism; ensure you have their full attention before delivering the message. You don't want to create an environment where they feel judged or attacked.

Choose a private, comfortable setting to ensure your mentee feels open and safe to receive the information. This will help boost the mentor-mentee relationship and make them more receptive to difficult feedback.

4. Deliver Constructive Criticism

Mentorship is all about helping someone to become better. This means it's vital to ensure your criticism comes across as constructive and not destructive.

Be honest but also try to be encouraging in the process. Ensure they understand how their actions impact them and what they can do differently to achieve success. Help provide resources or suggestions to help them take the necessary steps to improve.

5. Find Balance

Negative feedback can kill your mentee's morale. If you have something negative to say, mix it up with positive feedback. It is good for their morale and may reinforce good performance.

For every negative thing you say, follow up with positive feedback to create a balance. If you are doing a good job, this shouldn't be hard. Your mentee should be doing more right than wrong.

Sandwiching is an effective method. If you have negative feedback, start with positive feedback. Deliver the negative feedback and end with more positive feedback. However, you shouldn't overuse this method. Over time, your mentee could get suspicious of your positive feedback.

6. Get Feedback

Encourage your mentee to respond to your feedback. After a discussion, find out how they feel. This way, you can understand how they feel about criticism. It puts you on the same page.

You need to know if your employee has taken something harshly. It helps you deliver criticism more effectively in the future. You can clear the air to ensure no one is harbouring negative feelings. Two-way communication is critical for the success of your relationship.

Ask the following questions when seeking feedback:
• Do you understand the discussion we had today?
• Do you wish to bring anything else forward?
• What do you think of the feedback I gave today?
• Do you have concerns over anything we brought up?

If your mentee has strong feelings about anything, you can discuss them and move forward. If anything was unclear, you can clear it up at this point.

As a mentor, you must provide honest feedback to your mentees. Learning to give constructive criticism in a caring and supportive way is critical if you want to help them reach their goals and maximise their potential. Follow these tips, and keep the lines of communication open so that both of you can continue growing together!

This article was guest written by Jessica Perkins.

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