Addressing Feedback from Mentors and Mentees

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No program is perfect - every program coordinator will receive negative feedback as they run mentoring programs. Especially if you’re new to this, it’s important to remember that when taking on the challenge of building a mentoring culture, it’s natural for people to have differing opinions, as well as constructive or even negative feedback. This is normal, and expected, even, and you shouldn’t be afraid of receiving it.

As an individual, our first response to negative feedback can sometimes be defensive, but as a people leader, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn about what works and what allows you to create your best mentoring program yet.

As you take on this journey of building a culture of mentoring, we’re here to guide you. So here are some common pieces of feedback you might receive and how to respond like a people hero.

I’m not happy with my match

The first thing to acknowledge when you receive this kind of feedback is that this is normal. This happens in every program and is in no way a reflection of your abilities as a Program Coordinator. The next thing to do is to determine why they feel that there’s a mismatch and then address it accordingly.

Our guide to Troubleshooting Bad Matches has more on this.

Tip from the Mentorloop team:

Encourage your participants to be open-minded about unlikely connections.

You may encounter a scenario where a mentee feels as if they haven’t been assigned a suitable match and that they cannot learn anything from their mentor. Although this may be the case in some situations, it’s important to remind your participants that great mentors can look different to what they might expect. Here are 25 Great Questions your mentees can ask their mentors to help them be open-minded about the value they could get from their unlikely match. -Kristin

My mentoring partner is unresponsive

Much like the previous issue, determine why. A few possible problems here could be:

Language Barriers

One of your participants may be struggling to communicate in a second language and may need either support or a mentoring partner who speaks their primary language.

Advice from our Customer Success Team

For Enteprise customers:

"If you know this might be the case for your type of program, ensure that you have covered a language question in your signup form so that this issue does not occur mid-matching. "
For Pro customers:

"Establish expectations for your program at the beginning, if you have the Diversity Equity and Inclusion program theme, you can check your participants' mentoring connection preferences (This question: "It is important to me that my mentoring partner is __________"

Time Zone Difficulties

A possible problem for global programs, sometimes it gets difficult to foster great communication when time zones are too tricky to work with. In these cases, there are a few things you could do:

  • Things can sometimes get lost when people don’t communicate in real-time. Mediate and find out if there’s been some misunderstanding with when and how they have chosen to communicate and see if they can make it work from there. If not,
  • Rematch the participants with a mentoring partner based in a location that’s much easier to schedule time with
  • You can also consider asking your participants to indicate on their profiles their preferences or flexibility in meeting times if you find that more than a handful of participants struggle with this. 

Technical Issues

A participant could be unresponsive because they aren’t receiving their notifications via their emails or Slack messages, for example. One thing to do is to check with your IT department that Mentorloop’s emails aren’t being blocked (or if you’re running a program across different organisations, that the participant’s IT department isn’t blocking Mentorloop’s emails).

You could also ask them to check that their integrations, like their calendar or Slack, are set up properly.

 

Time/Capacity Issues

Sometimes, a participant can get excited and bite off more than they can chew. They request or approve matches with a few mentoring partners and before they know it, they’re overwhelmed and no longer have the time or capacity for one or two people they’ve matched with.

If this is the problem when you check in with them, just make sure to encourage the unresponsive participant to just send a message with their apologies and that they now find themselves unable to take on another mentoring partner. They can extend an invitation to prioritise them as their match for the next cohort or connect on LinkedIn. You can then rematch the other participant with a new mentoring partner. 

Advice from our Customer Success Team:

"If you encounter some motivation issues, try to understand what has changed from when the participant signed up for the program - as presumably they were motivated then. If they don't have the energy or time for mentoring at the moment, ask them to mark themselves unavailable on Mentorloop until they have the time to dedicate to it. 
- Marina

I’m feeling a bit lost and don’t know how to proceed

When you receive this feedback, find out where the participant in question is in their journey. You can find this out by checking their Milestones on Mentorloop. This will give you an idea of what they’ll most likely need in terms of support and guidance. 

You also don’t need to address this one-to-one if you have a few participants who seem stuck in a certain stage. You can use your filters and tags, and then send them appropriate messages or resources in bulk. Here are a few of our guides that you can send through to participants who are a bit lost:

Advice from our Customer Success Team:

"If your participants are experiencing some stagnant periods or lulls in their mentoring journey, you can encourage them to schedule recurring meetings so they can get into a rhythm in their mentoring relationship."
- Marina
"Also, encourage your participants to mix it up if they’re getting stuck. Try a reflection session, a lifeline session, or even a storytelling session! You can share our mentoring session guides with them to get them started."
- Lucy

My mentoring partner has behaved inappropriately

This one is probably the worst of all the complaints you could receive in your program, but fortunately, it’s also incredibly rare - the vast majority of people approach mentoring with positive intent. Make sure you address any reports of inappropriate behaviour quickly.

Immediately close this Loop. You and the participants will still have access to previous messages should you need them for documentation.

Make sure you also immediately speak to both parties, document statements and timelines properly, and escalate to the proper authorities. Depending on what took place, you may need to escalate to their supervisors or even Human Resources. Whatever it is, make sure you communicate that you are taking this seriously and are going to make sure it gets dealt with appropriately.

Advice from our Customer Success Team:

"To help avoid these situations, you can take a look at Mentorloop’s Community Guidelines and share them with your cohort. It’s also a good idea to reiterate your organisation’s code of conduct or, if you’re a small organisation and don’t have one, outline some basic conduct rules at the beginning of the program."
- Lucy
"Don’t let the negatives distract you from the great job you’re doing! We typically see one negative piece of feedback for every 20 positive ones!  And yet Program Coordinators can often focus on the negatives or at least be a bit too concerned about them. Of course, it’s important to take action on those negative bits, but don’t forget to see the big picture and celebrate what a great job you’re doing overall!"
-Marina

 

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