Mentoring: Why and How
Finding mentors is an important step in advancing your education or career. An effective mentor can prepare you to achieve your goals, as ideally, they have already achieved similar ones. A good mentor also provides feedback and encouragement throughout your time working together. When choosing mentors, it is important to consider what they have experienced as well as what they are currently doing. If your mentor is involved with work that interests you or organizations you would like to join, they can likely put you in touch with other mentors or professional contacts. It is important to be proactive and direct when reaching out to mentors. You should communicate early on what you expect from the relationship and how they can help you the most. You also need to be available, committed, and respectful of your mentor’s time. It is a good idea to find multiple mentors, as each will have unique experiences, insights, and schedules. If one mentor is unavailable when you need them, another could possibly step in and help. Once you have a mentor, make sure to set up a reasonable schedule and establish expectations for communication. If you both know what you want from the relationship, you will likely get more out of it. No matter what you gain from a mentoring relationship, it is important to show your appreciation for their time and to set up options for future contact.
There are many ways to be an effective leader, but there are traits that almost all great leaders possess. Charisma, intellect, and vision are all important, but none as important as awareness. Great leaders must be aware of themselves, their followers, and their work. Taking time away from work can be difficult, but leaders must dedicate time to self-reflection and feedback. Being a collaborative leader means knowing yourself and others, giving and receiving feedback, and being culturally sensitive. Collaborative leaders build a sense of security and trust in their teams and allow everyone to contribute at their highest level. Leaders should set up formal and informal forums for feedback and to talk with the rest of the team. Understanding those around you will enable you to build empathy and trust, which are the foundation for effective team collaboration. As a collaborative leader, it is also important to be aware of cultural differences and be sensitive when navigating these differences. It is not always easy to know how to manage others, but communication and awareness are always a good start.
Feedback in Professional Settings
Countries differ in how they prefer to give and receive feedback. Some countries are typically direct, using upgrading words to increase the severity of the feedback. Other countries are more indirect, using downgrading words to keep the feedback subtle. Americans are relatively direct in their feedback, but they wrap negative feedback in compliments to soften the blow. It is important to make employees feel valued, and to balance negative feedback with compliments over time. When an employee does a good job on an assignment, make sure they know you appreciate it. Building trust over time will help them accept your feedback when it is necessary to be negative. Make sure to prepare and practice what you are going to say when giving feedback. Focus on the person’s behavior rather than their personality, tell them before the problem develops and gets worse, and make sure to explain how fixing the problem will benefit both them and the team. Professionals in the Netherlands are also considered to be direct when giving negative feedback, but it is risky to try and match another culture’s directness. If employees have not built trust with you, then they could find your feedback to be insulting and they will likely disregard your suggestions. When crossing cultures, it is important to be courteous and consider the feelings of the person receiving the feedback.
Mentoring Guides for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2019, from http://grad.uw.edu/for- students-and-post-docs/core-programs/mentoring/mentoring-guides-for-students/
Meyer, E. (2015, September 16). Giving Negative Feedback Across Cultures. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/giving-negative-feedback-across-cultures-4259
Petersen, D. (2013, November 27). Carole Robin: Feedback is a Gift. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/carole-robin-feedback-gift
Vora, T. (2014, May 12). Indispensable Traits of a Collaborative Leader: Part 3. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from http://qaspire.com/2014/05/11/indispensable-traits-of-a-collaborative-leader-part-3/