Mentoring is important from both the perspective of the mentor and mentee. The mentor can have a connection with someone who is younger or less experienced than they are, helping develop their mentee into a well-educated professional. The mentee is able to find someone who will give them feedback and encouragement, will help them develop a network and potentially other mentors, will recommend programs or opportunities to the mentee, and is available for consultation or advice when needed (University of Washington, n.d.).
You can find a mentor in school by reaching out to professors or going to office hours, but in a professional setting, this can be more difficult. In the workplace, you may have to invite someone out for lunch or coffee. You should be familiar with your potential mentor’s work in order to assess whether you have similar interests. Additionally, your mentor should understand your goals and strengths so that they can help you move forward with your career. Once a mentorship is established, you should establish how often to meet and how and how often you can reach out in less formal settings. You should also have a way to receive feedback and have goals for the mentorship. A lot of the experience responsibility falls on the mentee, since that is who benefits the most from the experience. (University of Washington, n.d.)
In different cultures, the way that feedback is given varies. Understanding how people give feedback in your own workplace and life is important because in some places feedback is given very gently, and you may not notice it is even being given, while in other places feedback is given sternly, and you should not take offense or feel like that person is being rude, and still other places may be somewhere in the middle. As a manager, you have to be aware of how the people you manage may interpret your feedback. As a worker, you have to recognize how your manager gives feedback and how your peers give feedback. However, Erin Meyer (2015), does not suggest trying to change your feedback style to match others, in case you over compensate and become too direct or too indirect. Meyer instead recommends to pay attention to the “upgraders” or “downgraders” that are used in the culture you are immersed in and work to include those types of indicators into your own feedback style.
In addition to understanding the way feedback is given in the culture you are immersed in, you must also understand how to properly give feedback, and make sure to practice giving feedback to continually improve. Some tips from Carol Robin, the director of a leadership program at Stanford, suggests to give your feedback before you are annoyed with someone, use “I” statements, and focus on what the person is doing rather than the person themselves (Peterson, 2013). In a professional setting, these are important because you are working with the person you are giving feedback to every day. Using “I” statements to tell someone how you feel can made the person you are talking to feel like you are opening up to them, and they can understand your motivation to give them feedback, making it easier to listen.
The traits of a good leader include what you would expect-- confidence, the ability to relate to others, and goal-oriented. However, when leading a diverse group, there are other skills that a good leader also must possess, including self-awareness, the desire to receive feedback, and cultural sensitivity (Vora, 2014). Self-awareness and reflection are important for leading because they allow you to grow from your past and ensure that as a leader you aren't over-reaching or being too controlling. Feedback and cultural sensitivity, as discussed above, are intrinsically tied. Also, feedback is a good way to know how your team is feeling and what you could be doing better as a leader.
University of Washington Graduate School (n.d.). Mentoring Guides for Students. Retrieved from http://grad.uw.edu/for-students-and-post-docs/core-programs/mentoring/mentoring-guides-for-students/
Meyer, E. (2015, September 2015). Giving Negative Feedback Across Cultures. Retrieved from https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/giving-negative-feedback-across-cultures-4259
Peterson, D. (2013, November 27). Carole Robin: Feedback is a Gift. Retrieved from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/carole-robin-feedback-gift
Vora, T. (2011, May 11). Indispensible Traits of a Collaboartive Leader: Part 3. Retrieved from http://qaspire.com/2014/05/11/indispensable-traits-of-a-collaborative-leader-part-3/