Search form

Section 7. Getting Feedback: Keeping Your Mentoring Program Relevant and Successful

Learn how to monitor and evaluate a mentoring program.

 

  • WHY GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

  • WHEN DO YOU GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

  • HOW DO YOU GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

  • COMMON MENTOR-PROTÉGÉ PROBLEMS THAT FEEDBACK CAN IDENTIFY

 

WHY GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

As with any type of service program, you will want to monitor your mentoring program and get feedback about how it is working.

Monitoring your program will:

  • Let you evaluate the performance of the program
  • Inform you about areas of the program that need improvement
  • Help you assess your goals for the program
  • Help you better support the needs of the mentors and protégés
  • Help you identify problems in the program at an early stage

WHEN DO YOU GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

Monitoring your program should be an ongoing process. The sooner you start monitoring and gathering feedback from your mentoring program, the sooner you will gain the benefits for doing so.

 

HOW DO YOU GATHER FEEDBACK ABOUT YOUR MENTORING PROGRAM?

There are a number of ways you can monitor your mentoring program. Some of the more common methods include:

GROUP DISCUSSION

Mentor-protégé pairs should meet with program staff once or twice a year and discuss what they have been doing together and how it worked. They may also want to discuss issues that came up and how they resolved various conflicts.

INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW

The program coordinators should meet on a regular basis - perhaps monthly - with the mentors to discuss problems and successes. This allows for individualized support of the mentor, while maintaining the protégés confidentiality.

The coordinator may ask questions such as:

  • What are some of the things you do with the youth?
  • What is most satisfying about the relationship?
  • What is most frustrating about the relationship?
  • What activities do you feel contribute to the success of your relationship?

LOGBOOKS OR JOURNALS

Mentors can record their experiences in a journal or logbook. Thus, they can follow their experiences over time, and to record achievements and goals met. Mentors can also keep photographs, slides, and charts of progress towards goals. The logbook would be available to program staff so that they can also follow the development of the relationship between mentor and protégé.

 

COMMON MENTOR-PROTÉGÉ PROBLEMS THAT FEEDBACK CAN IDENTIFY

THE MENTOR AND PROTÉGÉ ARE NOT COMPATIBLE

The fact is that not all relationships work out. There may be cultural differences, communication problems, or a lack of common interests between the mentor and protégé, or they may simply not get along. They should try their best to overcome these problems; however, forcing the issue will not give satisfactory results to anyone.

The participants can be re-matched, but first, a project coordinator should look at the underlying cause(s) of the problem to both avoid the same problem happening again, and to make adjustments to the program if necessary.

PROTÉGÉ RESENTMENT

Sometimes the protégé may feel like he has a mentor as a punishment. It's important to make sure that the protégé doesn't feel like she is being treated like a problem. If the protégé feels that way, resentment may arise. Mentoring is an opportunity, not a punishment. Mentors should have a respectful attitude toward their protégés and a solid selection process should weed out people with inappropriate attitudes.

THE NEEDS OF THE PROTÉGÉ ARE BEYOND THE MENTOR'S ABILITY TO HELP

Some youth may have behavioral or academic problems that cannot be addressed in the context of a mentoring program. An adolescent with ongoing substance abuse problems, a family in crisis, or severe behavioral difficulties may need professional help. Mentors should be aware of their limitations, and should not hesitate to refer their protégés to the appropriate program or agencies where necessary.

ADDITIONAL EVALUATION RESOURCES

In the Community Tool Box are a variety of evaluation resources you should also access. There are other resources on gathering information about problems experienced by youth, families and communities in the Community Assessment chapter, but start with the evaluation chapters and toolkit.

 

IN SUMMARY

Any program needs a mechanism to make sure it is achieving its goals. It's not different in a mentoring program. You need to know how it's doing so that you can better plan for the future and mend mistakes from the past. Feedback is even more important on mentoring programs because you're dealing with youths. They'll appreciate and benefit from feedback.

Contributor 
Lorraine Claassen
Vincent Francisco

Print Resources

Campus Partners in Learning. (1990). Resource manual for campus-based youth mentoring programs. Providence, RI: Brown University.

Freedman, M. (1993). The kindness of strangers: adult mentors, urban youth, and the new volunteerism. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Kanfer, F. (1995). A mentor manual: for adults who work with pregnant and parenting teens. Washington, DC: Child Welfare League of America.

Public/Private Ventures. (1994). Mentoring in the juvenile justice system. Philadelphia, PA: Mecartney, C.A.