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New programme introduction: What does structured feedback for WBS Mentors look like?

As part of WBS’s commitment to delivering a high-quality global mentoring programme, we regularly review how it is delivered and received so we can identify ways to enhance the experience for both mentees and mentors.

One of the ideas we have been considering for a little while now is the introduction of structured feedback for mentors to support their development. We know already that this is good practice in the world of coaching. And when we surveyed mentors on this idea in the 2020 Programme Quality Annual Review, we received very positive response from respondents. As a result, we will be introducing structured feedback from the June 2022 mentee intake onwards. We also invite mentors in existing relationships to help us by opting in now, to help develop their mentoring practice.

The way it will work

Once a two-year mentoring relationship has come to a close in June/July, WBS will gather qualitative feedback in August/September each year for WBS Mentors This time frame is to allow time for completion of the relationship and a short reflection period*. The feedback will consist of posing the following questions in a short survey to their outgoing mentees:

Feedback obtained from your mentee, after completion, by asking the following:-

  1. As a mentor what did this person do that worked for you and which you think they should keep doing or do more of?
  2. As a mentor what did this person do which worked less well for you and which you think they should do less of?
  3. Is there anything more that you would have liked your mentor to have done?

* The first programme that this will apply to will be the June 2022 intake i.e. with the first mentor feedback being gathered in June 2024. However, if you would like to help us and opt in now, email to let us know.

Feedback will be received by the WBS Mentoring Programme office who in turn will send this on to you by email in September/October together with links to WBS’s online CPD resources. All mentors will also be offered the opportunity to debrief and discuss their feedback on a confidential one-to-one basis with a fellow mentor and WBS Mentoring Programme Steering Committee member.

In the moment feedback

Gathering structured developmental feedback at the end of the programme does not replace the need for mentors to seek in-the-moment feedback from their mentees. WBS encourages you to ask the following questions of your mentees throughout the mentoring programme so you can check your approach is helpful and make adjustments as appropriate as you go along:

Continue to seek 'in-the-moment' feedback throughout your relationship

  • What do I do that works and you’d like me to keep doing or do more of?
  • What do I do that works less well which you’d like me to do less of?
  • What other requests do you have of me?
How feedback will be used and stored

 The primary purpose for gathering this feedback is so that we can share this with you our WBS mentors to help you hone and enhance your mentoring skills on a self-directed basis; we know from survey responses in 2020 that this will be widely welcomed.

Additionally, from a quality assurance perspective, the feedback gives the WBS Mentoring Office a further way to understand how mentoring is being received (supplementing data from annual Programme Quality Review Survey), and to make any adjustments as necessary to the programme and in particular CPD support and training for mentors. In the main the feedback will be reviewed at an aggregated level but, in exceptional circumstances, it may be a catalyst for individual conversations.

Whilst mentors continue to be involved in the programme, structured feedback will be retained for a maximum of six years. Once a mentor has stepped down from the programme feedback record will be destroyed. Data is held in accordance with the WBS Global Mentoring Programme and University of Warwick’s privacy and data policies.

Questions you may have ... with option to comment/ask questions below:

Why has WBS decided to ask for structured feedback at the end of the programme rather than during?

We believe that it will be easier for mentees to provide high-level and helpful, developmental feedback for their mentor at the end of the programme, i.e. once they are in a position to step back from their issues and no longer have a degree of reliance on you for support.

In adopting this approach (encouraging mentors to seek ongoing feedback during the programme plus gathering structured feedback at the end) we will be following good practice from the world of professional coaching.

Can I choose not to have feedback gathered on me?

We believe that feedback plays a vital role in skills development and, therefore, in helping WBS maintain the standing and reputation of its global mentoring programme. For this reason, we will be making it an integral part of the mentoring programme for all WBS Mentors from the June 2022 intake onwards.

Will my mentee be required to give feedback on me and what happens if they don’t?

The application and induction process for mentees will be revised to make it clear that we will be seeking structured feedback on their mentor at the end of the two-year programme and why, and that they join the programme on that understanding. We cannot compel mentees to complete the survey but hope that, with your encouragement to do so, we will be able to achieve a good response rate.

What happens if I have a challenging relationship – how will my feedback be considered/reviewed?

WBS works hard to ensure that mentees who join the programme do so with realistic expectations about the nature of the scheme and the role of WBS Mentors. We are nevertheless aware that, very occasionally, a mentor may be paired with someone whose expectations are not realistic and that, in turn, this can influence the mentee’s view of the scheme/their mentor and result in negativity when providing feedback. WBS Mentors can rest assured that exceptional feedback of this nature will be treated by the WBS Mentoring team as just that i.e. a one off. In the unlikely event a WBS Mentor were to receive negative comments from a mentee we would strongly encourage the mentor to take up the offer of a debrief with a Steering Committee Member and/or Mentoring Programme team, so that the feedback can be explored, contextualised and processed. 

on behalf of the WBS Global Mentoring Steering Committee

What questions or thoughts do you have? Leave your comments below.