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Giving and Receiving Feedback

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Lois J. Zachary, author of The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work for You says, "Honest, respectful, and straightforward exchange of feedback is the foundation of a good mentoring relationship". Not only is feedback essential from both mentor and mentee perspectives in the creation of a learning environment, it is also necessary when assessing the progress and outcomes of the relationship.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

The giving and receiving of feedback is a complicated process so it is important at the beginning of the mentoring relationship that both mentor and mentee share information that will facilitate this process (see Tips For Mentees Engaging In Feedback or Tips For Mentors Providing Feedback tables). 

There are a number of techniques, methods and strategies on the effective giving and receiving of feedback. Here are a few, from the extremely simple to the more complex:

Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI)

This feedback technique was developed by the Center for Creative Leadership. It is a 3-step process in which the feedback provider outlines the specific situation (S), describes the observed behavior (B), and explains the impact of that behavior (I)

EXAMPLE: (S) Jennifer, I noticed in staff meeting today that (B) you spent all your time checking your email on your tablet. (I) This frustrated me because I felt that what I was discussing was not important to you and I noticed that it was a distraction for others in the room.

The Feedback Circle - expands the process beyond the linear "ask & receive" model

  • Asking for Feedback - make a habit of asking for feedback. Remember to ask clear, concise questions as vague requests will yield vague answers.
  • Receiving Feedback - this can be a challenge for many. Remember this is not a personal attack but an observation of behavior and the consequences of that behavior.
  • Accepting Feedback - others often judge behavior, not intent, so learn from the feedback, using it to improve your behavior and broaden your thinking.
  • Acting on Feedback - take the information received and act on it. Set goals and share your progress.
  • Giving Feedback - this should be perceived as an act of caring. Make sure your comments are well framed, concise, relevant and practical.

Zachary, Lois J., The Mentee's Guide: Making Mentoring Work For You, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2009

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