Tips for Mentoring Staff

WIC Logo - Connecting with You

Tips for Mentoring Staff

Minnesota WIC Program


Getting started:

Before the participant arrives, establish rapport with the staff person being observed.

  • "How is your day going? Thanks for letting me observe today?"

Explain the purpose of the observation.

Ask: "What are you working on?" OR "What would you like me to listen for?"(OARS)

Share that you are taking notes, so you can remember and share helpful information.

Assure that all information will be kept confidential.


While observing:

Choose a seat out of the way, preferably where you can see both parties.

Observe the participant interaction and listen for what the staff person is working on.

Write quotes of what you hear the staff person and the participant say to help you share specific comments.

Identify your affirmations for the staff person to share after the participant has left.


Mentoring Discussion:

Affirm the staff person right away. Examples may include:

  • "You really got the conversation off to a good start."
  • "You easily connected with the participant."

Ask open-ended questions to encourage self-assessment. Help the staff person explore her feelings, thoughts and hopes about the participant interaction. Examples may include

  • "How did that go for you?"
  • "What do you think went well?"
  • "What if anything, might you do differently next time?"
  • "What did you observe about the participant?"

Reflect the staff person's response to each question to encourage further exploration.

Ask permission: "Would you like to hear my feedback?"

  • "Here are some examples of things I heard you say." Share a few examples.

Balance the feedback. Offer positive feedback (identify strengths) in addition to asking for and suggesting ideas for improvement.

Find something to affirm everyone on. End on a positive note!

  • "You do a nice job with reflections. It is great that you are trying different types."
  • "You shared some great affirmations. They really made the mom feel good."

Identify next steps and offer future support. Summarize feedback and lessons learned. Encourage staff person to select one skill or strategy to focus on.

For more tips on the mentoring discussion, see Providing Positive Feedback.


Closing the discussion:

Offer future support and arrange for follow-up, if appropriate.

  • "What kind of support could you use in the future?"
  • "How can I help?"

Thank the staff person for letting you observe and for receiving feedback.

  • "Thank you so much for letting me observe the appointment. I learn so much from doing these observations."

Share affirmations to highlight something special about the person. Examples may include:

  • "You really want to do a good job. I can tell that you have been practicing."
  • "You care about your moms. Your warmth and caring shines through."

Adapted from the Washington State WIC Program

Back to top