Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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3.1 Mentoring training

While you can become a mentor without any formal training, and this course will have shown you the basics, you might find it useful to learn more about mentoring in a situation where you can interact with others and practise your skills.

If you work in a large organisation, they may offer a formal mentoring programme. If they do, it is likely that they will also offer some relevant training. This will allow you to explore the role in more detail, learning about how it is implemented in your organisation, what record keeping is required etc.

If you work in a small organisation, they may have an informal scheme that doesn’t incorporate training, or there might be nothing in place at all. In that case, you might want to explore some of the external organisations that offer relevant training.

You could start with your own professional body or association to see what they offer, but there are also independent training companies offering courses, both in person and online.

Before you pay for an independent training course, ask the following questions:

  • Will this course help me to develop the right skills and take me closer to achieving my goals?
  • Is the course practically or theoretically based, or a mix of the two? What suits my needs best?
  • Do I feel inspired/motivated by the content/style of delivery etc. of the course?
  • Will there be regular opportunities to receive feedback on my progress?
  • Will the course be recognised by employers, current and future?
  • Can I talk to previous participants before signing up?

Do as much research as possible before signing up. Courses can be expensive, and you don’t want to choose one that isn’t going to add something to your CV, build your mentoring skills and confidence, or allow you to develop a useful peer support network – preferably you’d like all three!

In Activity 3, you’ll look at a typical example of a mentoring training activity. Even if you don’t want to undertake mentoring training, this activity will be useful for anyone who ever has to give feedback.

Activity 3 Giving feedback

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

This typical mentoring training activity focuses on giving feedback appropriately and effectively. This activity is adapted from an example provided by Trainingcoursematerial.com (no date).

Look at this criteria for effective and ineffective feedback.

Effective feedbackIneffective feedback
Describes the behaviour which led to the feedback: ‘You are finishing my sentences for me…’.Uses evaluative/judgemental statements: ‘You’re being rude’; or generalised ones: ‘You’re trying to control the conversation’.
Is owned by the provider, who uses ‘I’ messages and takes responsibility for his thoughts, feelings and reactions.Ownership is transferred to ‘people’, ‘the book’, ‘upper management’ etc.
Includes the provider’s feelings about the behaviour (as long as they are relevant): ‘I get frustrated when I’m trying to make a point and you keep finishing my sentences.’Feelings are concealed, denied, misrepresented or distorted. One way to do this is to ‘transfer ownership’.
Is checked for clarity, to see that the receiver fully understands what’s being conveyed.Not checked.
Specifies consequences of the behaviour: ‘If you keep finishing my sentences I won’t want to spend much time talking to you in the future’.Provides vague consequences: ‘That kind of behaviour is going to get you into trouble’; or specifies no consequences: ‘You shouldn’t do that.’
Refers to behaviours about which the receiver can do something.Refers to behaviours over which the receiver has little or no control.

Now look at the sentences below and use the criteria provided to identify which of them deliver effective feedback.

  1. ‘When you interrupt me like that, it makes me want to stop talking to you.’
  2. ‘You’re really overreacting to what I just said.’
  3. ‘When you continue to talk so softly, even after I’ve said I have trouble hearing you, I get frustrated and want to end the conversation.’
  4. ‘It really doesn’t matter to me, but a lot of people would really be upset with what you just did.’
  5. ‘Do you understand what I mean when I say you’re sending me a double message?’
  6. ‘That kind of adolescent behaviour won’t get you anywhere around here.’
  7. ‘I could work with you more easily if you had a better sense of humour.’


The more effective statements are:

  1. ‘When you interrupt me like that, it makes me want to stop talking to you.’
  2. ‘When you continue to talk so softly, even after I’ve said I have trouble hearing you, I get frustrated and want to end the conversation.’
  3. ‘Do you understand what I mean when I say you’re sending me a double message?’

Statements 1 and 3 describe the behaviour, include the provider’s feelings about it and specify potential consequences.

Statement 5 checks for clarity to ensure that the receiver understands the feedback.

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