MENTORSHIP AND FEEDBACK
IN VIRTUAL WORK
LOOKING FOR A MENTOR VIRTUALLY
Looking for a mentor is challenging in any setting, but when you work virtually it can be more daunting because you may not have the same opportunities for spontaneous connection. Having a mentor can be a valuable source of emotional and professional support, a tool for professional growth, and can lead to career opportunities.
Since mentorship is often informal, it can be hard to know where to turn. Begin by identifying your short- and long-term goals. Consider what you want to accomplish professionally in the next three months, in the next year, and the next five years by creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound.
After identifying your goals, look around for people in your industry who have achieved those goals—maybe they have the position or job you want to have in the future. Do your research and note their career paths, whether they’re within or outside of your network, and consider scheduling a few informal informational interviews to give you better insight into their roles and responsibilities. If you find yourself underrepresented in your field, look for identity-based networks or organizations to help connect you with a mentor that can speak to your experiences. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find the right person immediately; it may take some time.
HOW TO ASK FOR AND RECEIVE FEEDBACK VIRTUALLY
When you work virtually, it’s easy to get caught up in being productive, without stopping to ask for feedback about how you can be more effective. In order to improve and grow, feedback—including negative feedback—is vital to your job. If you feel you could benefit from feedback but aren’t getting any, ask for a meeting with your supervisor or boss. During the meeting, focus on what you can do better in the future, and give your supervisor multiple opportunities to provide feedback by being specific about the situations you’re looking for feedback from. Regularly incorporating opportunities for feedback can also help you communicate to your employer your hopes and goals for your career, which can create opportunities for you to progress.
Note: Opportunities for growth aren’t always built into virtual work roles. Your best tool here will be communication; have a frank conversation with your employer about your short- and long-term goals within the organization, how to best set yourself up for success, and your dreams for the future.
How to give feedback virtually to youth employees
With the shift to virtual work during COVID-19, and the potential for it to continue, employers have to build new communication practices to reinforce a positive and healthy workplace. According to youth survey respondents, good communication is the most important element of creating positive virtual work culture. Giving feedback to new virtual employees is integral to staff productivity, success, and satisfaction.
Keep your feedback timely and relevant, as issues can escalate if they’re not addressed immediately. Before you give feedback, check in on your employee to see how they’re doing and what they’re working on to understand their mindset. Feedback can often be delivered more successfully if it includes appreciation and a clear desired outcome. For example, you might start by complimenting your employee’s creative skills, while expressing a desire to help them improve their communication skills so their ideas are better understood. Be specific around your expectations and be supportive of your employees’ self-leadership skills by asking open-ended questions like, “How can I help?” or “What do you need?”