Head Mentor Sinclair Dorman - Corporate Mentoring Initiatives
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Mentoring prepares you for honest feedback – embrace it

Being able to receive feedback objectively and act on it is a skill that even some senior management professionals struggle with. But through careful mentoring you can learn to do it – and reap the rewards that come with it.

9th Mar 2020
Head Mentor Sinclair Dorman - Corporate Mentoring Initiatives
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businesswoman speaking to colleague or hr during job interview
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“You get too involved with your clients, to yours and their detriment”. That was some feedback I received in my mentor reflection session last month.  

Ten years ago my hackles would have risen and my defence mechanism initiated. Now, I am keen to soak up constructive criticism, knowing that if I digested and acted on it I could only become a better mentor and trainer. What has changed? Maturity. Confidence. I’m finally secure in my skin. These are all things I credit to having a mentor, some coaching and of course experience.

When mentees experience a fast-track journey to reaching this status, the effect on culture and productivity within the organisation is compelling.

All feedback will have an element of value. As long we remain aware of the intention behind that feedback, realise that the responsibility of taking or leaving it remains with us, why shouldn’t we embrace it?  

The power of feedback  

I was talking to a client’s head of HR recently about their company culture. She immediately looked crestfallen and explained that generally there was an aura of bitchiness, spoilt behaviour, and jealousy. The mother in me wanted to introduce a naughty step and take away toys. Obviously this would be highly inappropriate and not PC. The mentor in me wanted to initiate a mentoring scheme with a heavier slant in the training on embracing honest feedback.  

What would this achieve? Four things, initially:

  • Space for mentee and mentor self-reflection in a safe, confidential environment
  • Awareness and appreciation of colleagues’ contribution on all sorts of levels
  • The confidence to focus on individual remit
  • Experienced guidance as well as interpretation of reviews and feedback

Of course, feedback has to be delivered with integrity and decorum, but it can be a powerful thing. My preferred phrase is 'focus on making your own grass greener'.  

Another crucual aspect is considering who is monitoring delivery internally. I have seen firms create their own toxic culture by having the wrong people in the wrong places because ‘it’s easy’. The achievement boxes are being ticked with the staus quo, so necessary challenge is avoided for an easy life. These situations are fundamentally down to poor senior management and their lack of ability to take on true, healthy feedback themselves. Sadly this situation is all too common in organisations across the globe. How do we conquer this challenge? Through regular training in awareness, confidence and breaking ego barriers.

Battling egos

Recently, my company was engaged to provide executive mentoring to a senior management team to attempt to tackle the ego issue. Unsurprisingly, the entire team believed they were above mentoring. Is it the role of HR to insist on these initiatives? There will be a variety of opinions on this. Mine is that if a senior management team is behaving to the constant detriment of the wider team, then yes.  

So how does this position feedback, in the guise of (or as part of) a review performed by an out of touch senior management team? The days of heavy, arduous annual reviews conducted by out of touch management teams are over – surely a good thing.

Reviews, including pertinent feedback, are now proven to be far more effective when delivered in short regular bite-size chunks on a quarterly or even bi-monthly basis. This allows up-to-date feedback that is pertinent to the recent activity and mindset of the individual. It also offers the option of support in the present, as opposed to on a project or issue that happened six months prior.

After working with countless HR professionals in many different organisations, I can tell you that the common attribute they all have is a passion for their people. In fact, it was an HR director that gave us our one of our company mantras – ‘mentoring = happy, productive people’. Of course, that particular company has a fantastic feedback culture, supported by a highly effective mentoring scheme. What makes a successful organisation is this passion, combined with a culture that allows for personal insight and reflection.  

All feedback will have an element of value. As long we remain aware of the intention behind that feedback, realise that the responsibility of taking or leaving it remains with us, why shouldn’t we embrace it?  

Interested in this topic? Read How to create a healthy feedback culture.

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