Mentoring – What is it?

A dictionary definition of a mentor is “an experienced and trusted adviser and guide”. Traditionally, mentors tended to be people in senior roles who have many years experience and a wide range of contacts who provide mentoring to someone in a junior role, either in or outside an organisation.  However, contemporary approaches to mentoring now means that it includes a much wider range of arrangements, including peer to peer mentoring and even reverse mentoring where a younger person mentors an older person on new trends such as the use and application of social media, for example.

Mentoring has undergone a huge resurgence in interest and practical application in recent years for two primary reasons. The first is that it is highly effective; the

second unsurprisingly is that it provides excellent value for money, as a people development tool. Within organisations, effective formal mentoring programmes can be particularly helpful in supporting talent development and retention,  especially women returners, and also in supporting inclusion and diversity agendas.

Another useful definition of mentoring provided by David Clutterbuck, a renowned UK expert in the area of mentoring is:-

“Off –line help from one person to another, in making significant transitions in knowledge work or thinking. “

Formal Versus informal Mentoring

It is important to make the distinction here between informal and formal mentoring. Informal mentoring occurs regularly in organisations usually between managers/leaders and their direct reports/team members. It is a recognised development tool, but there are problems with it.

Because of it’s very nature, the benefits or outputs from it cannot be measured. There are no particular objectives, no strategic structure, and usually little or no record of these interchanges. It is therefore extremely difficult to assess the impact or value of such arrangements.

Formal mentoring, on the other hand, occurs when a really effective framework and one which addresses all key areas including:

  • Agreed objectives and outcomes for the mentoring programme
  • A workable strategic mentor/matching system
  • A blended approach which includes peer to peer and reverse mentoring, and group mentoring, where appropriate.
  • Maintenance of records of formal sessions
  • Effective monitoring and evaluation methods are included
  • There is someone with overall responsibility appointed to oversee and manage the programme.

Our focus areas

We focus in the following areas:-

  • Training in essential mentoring skills and best practice to mentors and mentees.
  • Advising on best practise in setting up and implementing formal mentoring programmes.
  • Advice and support in implementing a strategic matching process
  • Supporting the induction of new mentors and mentees
  • Supporting the on-going monitoring and evaluation of mentoring programmes

Our Approach

Our approach is straightforward. We;

  • listen to understand the objectives and requirements of the client organisation
  • speak to all interested stakeholders, where possible and appropriate
  • Provide a proposal, detailing a number of options, based on available resources.
  • Where retained, continue to work in partnership with client organisation to deliver all aspects of the mentoring programme we are engaged with
  • Continue to support the mentoring programme once up and running, especially in the on-going evaluation, to ensure a visible return on investment

Benefits of implementing an effective mentoring Scheme

Supports the retention and development of internal talent

77% of companies report that mentoring programmes were effective in increasing employee retention. 35% of employees who do not receive regular mentoring look for another job within 12 months.

American society for training and development

Improves employee engagement and productivity

Managerial productivity increased by 88% when mentoring was involved versus only a 24% increase with training alone. 71% of Fortune 500 companies use mentoring to assure learning occurs in their organisations. 

American society for training and development

Supports the development of a diverse workforce

Mentoring is particularly useful in supporting the development and maintenance of a diverse workforce, particularly women returning to the workplace after maternity leave.

44% of CEO’s list mentoring programmes as one of the three most effective strategies to enhance women’s advancement into senior management.


Succession Planning

Many organisations find that mentoring provides a clearer picture of the talent pool available and helps people position themselves more clearly against the likely needs of the business

Cost effective method of developing talent in the organisation

Although there are costs associated with mentoring, particularly, the costs of the time of the both mentor and mentee and the associated costs of running a programme, it is still one of the most cost effective ways of building a diverse, talented and confident workforce.