Feedback and Constructive Criticism: How Do you Like it Served?

I was working recently with a new student, who I am mentoring, and we discussed (what I find to be) the most important topic when building a relationship like this, how do you like to receive feedback and constructive criticism?

Primarily, this is the most important lesson for me, as the mentor. It is inevitable that there will be feedback, which is why we ask for mentoring, right? So how do you like it served?

I, for one, prefer direct and transparent communication. Don’t open with “here is what you are doing very well”, and shove the opportunities for improvement in the middle. That seems to beg the analogy of a “crap filled Oreo”. Give examples, bring me back to the instance when I performed the task, and what I could have done better. Bring me back to the conversation that took place, and show me where I could have guided it more efficiently, or changed course if appropriate?

What environment do you like to receive this in? I appreciate the one on one atmosphere with my mentor or next level. I want it to be the purpose of our time together. Feedback is not about just giving and receiving, it often requires a further discussion. It is of the utmost importance as a mentor, that feedback time is blocked for only that.
When would you like it? Personally, I prefer getting the feedback in the moment. Handling the situation at hand, and then having a time out to “debrief” about what could have gone better.

Feedback and criticism play a vital role in the development of leaders. It is so important that we are coordinating the way in which it is given to be the most beneficial to our student and as a set up for success in the overall experience.

Blog post by WHCM Steering Committee Member Jennifer Pendleton