Dealing with challenging situations

Where you are concerned regarding a trainees’ behaviour or progress (which fortunately is rare) contact should be made with at least one of the following:

  • The university Curriculum Tutor
  • The Pathway Leader
  • The Link Support Tutor or Centre Leader (if a Partner College)

Discussion with or an email to the university curriculum tutor is usually a good place to start as the curriculum tutor is normally also the trainee’s personal tutor.  The situation can then be managed via the tutorial system, appropriate support can be offered and steps taken to help resolve or ameliorate the difficulties if possible.

Gravells and Wallace (2007) suggest the following approaches are helpful in dealing with potentially problematic situations:

  • Be specific: be clear about the issue and avoid vague statements. Avoid opinions: use descriptions not opinions
  • Criticise the performance and not the person: refer to the behaviour not the characteristics of the individual
  • Encourage a two-way discussion: encourage self-reflection on behalf of the trainee by getting them to talk about their own performance
  • Ensure the feedback is balanced and focus on the positive aspects as well as identifying developmental areas
  • Ensure the feedback is timely to ensure bad practice does not become embedded in the trainees work
  • Be clear what needs to happen for a successful outcome: does the trainee understand clearly what changes need to be made?

Throughout the mentoring process, identification of strengths and areas for improvements should occur and therefore many problems may be resolved through discussion and negotiation.

Gravells, J and Wallace, S (2007) Mentoring in Further Education. Exeter: Learning Matters Limited.

Also see the Mentor Guide