MENTORING - Frequently Asked Questions

Mentoring is a developmental relationship based on experience; it is help by one person to another to share knowledge, skills, and experience. The aim is to develop skills and potential, increase know-how and performance, or improve ways of thinking and to help overcome barriers someone is facing.

A mentor is someone who provides support and helps the mentee to review their situation through a process of reflection, guidance, activities, questioning, signposting, challenge, and feedback. A mentor makes decisions about their approach to meet the needs of the mentee and help them to come to their own decisions and progress towards their goal. A mentor is focused on helping the mentee on their own journey.

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Indicators that someone would benefit from having a mentor can be when an individual needs experienced support in their business, career development or progression, improvement in their personal productivity, performance or when seeking a new or different role. If you need to develop leadership skills, manage people, overcome barriers in life, education, or work or navigate through a challenging time, then having a mentor can help maximise your potential, be there to guide, encourage and support you to achieve your goals and help you to become more proficient and accomplish more.

A mentor can help assess strengths and weaknesses, develop new skills, and help in planning and implementing short and long-term goals. They can often provide a fresh perspective, help in exploring alternative options and potential barriers; and help seek new ways of overcoming challenges and problems.
A mentor often has experience beyond the mentees therefore they can help with solving problems, spotting potential mistakes, challenging the mentees ways of thinking and acting as a sounding board offering guidance, support and feedback that is more impartial about the opportunities and pitfalls ahead.
It is often difficult to ask questions to family, close friends or colleagues within the workplace and for them to remain objective, a mentor can act as a confident, someone to trust and a sounding board for ideas. A good mentor will often have strong relationships, networks, and connections, be willing to share and propel the mentee forwards, faster than if they were on their own.
A mentor will share their own experiences, learnings, failures, knowledge, and wisdom which can help guide the mentee on their journey and avoid costly mistakes. Just one piece of sound advice can often be a catalyst of change for a mentee.

Mentoring can take place either in person, by phone, Skype, Zoom, Teams, FaceTime, through apps, via dedicated websites, or in a group setting.

Mentors come in all shapes and sizes, whichever type of mentor they are, they are coming from a position of experience, and whilst they may not always need to share that experience, the mentee knows that this experience is there.
Business Mentoring. Also known as enterprise mentoring, business mentors have experience of owning, running, managing or being in business. They can help improve the profitability, sustainability, productivity, and growth of a business. (Business mentors do not provide a counselling service or supply a training service).
Personal Mentoring. Also known as life mentoring. This can help at different life stages to support with direction, purpose, personal challenges and improve the well-being, resilience, and confidence of an individual.
Career Mentoring. A career mentor can help focus and define career goals, support transitions, help in re-marketing a person and develop skills, experience, and expertise. Career mentors can be applied in all fields of industry at all levels, from C Suite executives to junior staff to assist with career planning, goals and progression.
Ex-Offender Mentoring. Also known as Reform Mentoring. Mentoring an ex-offender as they transition out of prison and back into society.
Reform mentors can help a person who is disconnected from society to re-establish housing, financial, employment, social and emotional connections with the aim to keep that person from re-offending. Reform mentoring can include 1-2-1 sessions, group work or pre-release schemes which provide offenders with key employability or life skills prior to their release.
Youth Mentoring. A youth mentor can have a hugely positive impact on a young person, providing a greater sense of belonging and help in improving their emotional and academic outcomes. Youth mentors often work with some of the most vulnerable young people in society, providing them with a stable adult figure.
Mentors act as role model, helping improve the young person’s coping skills, well-being, and life chances. The evidence is clear that early intervention with mentoring works and it plays a key factor in helping avoid mental health issues and behavioral problems later in life.
Child and Young Person’s Mentoring. Child and young person’s mentoring is the holistic development of children in primary and secondary education. This type of mentoring is asset based, non-discriminatory and made available to all children. The main aims of this form of mentoring are to promote social ad emotional skills, reduce mental health difficulties and increase engagement in learning.
Community Mentoring. Community mentors develop relationships with their community. They can be a great source of support, compassion, and friendship. Mentors can be there to listen, build confidence, nurture skills, talents and encourage improved communication, new opportunities and signpost to other networks and resources.
Community mentoring can include people who are socially excluded, vulnerable, disengaged, disaffected, have experienced family problems, suffered with poverty, have limited social interaction with people outside their home or those who need career mentoring, academic mentoring or just someone to talk to.
Refugee Mentoring. Finding yourself in a new country, particularly if trauma was involved, can be very daunting. Refugee mentors are either former refugees or have a good understanding of the process of supporting refugees to settle in a new country. Using a trauma-informed approach they support refugees to settle, work through official processes and overcome any difficulties they face.
Sports Mentoring. Sports mentors will often provide support for mentees to overcome the barriers they are facing whilst developing their sports skills. This means that sports mentors often have an official role to train or develop the sports skills, but alongside this they support the holistic needs of the mentee.
Workplace Mentoring. Workplace mentors are often more senior colleagues in a workplace. They are independent of line managers and support employees to overcome any difficulties they are facing, increase productivity or performance or help develop skills, abilities, and interpersonal skills.
Workplace mentoring can include mentoring for managers, executive mentoring, mentoring to enable career progression of diverse or minority groups, employee development or reverse mentoring. Receiving mentoring in the workplace cannot be mandated and is mentee driven.
Apprentice Mentoring. An apprenticeship offers a valuable opportunity for the apprentice learning the skills required for a career. Alongside this, good practice is that the apprentice receives mentoring from someone who has experience of being an apprentice or supporting apprentices, but who is independent from their training and their line management. This gives the apprentice the safe space to discuss their holistic needs to get the best out of their apprenticeship opportunity.
Peer Mentoring. Peer mentoring is a form of mentoring that relies on the mentor being on a similar journey to the mentee, but just in a more advanced position. Examples of peer mentoring is for ex-offenders to mentor those newly released from prison, or for third year students to mentor new students. Peer mentors always have oversight and support from an organization, such as an educational setting or a charity to ensure that the mentoring is safe.
Reverse Mentoring. A reverse mentor is someone more junior than the mentor, new to the organisation, from a minority group or in a similar position to be able to give a senior colleague in an organisation an insight into their experiences. They are often used to address diversity issues, induction or improve the experiences of people in an organization.
There are many different types of mentoring opportunities specific to certain industries and groups, please follow us on social media where you will find all types of mentoring initiatives promote their opportunities.

National Mentoring Day was launched to acknowledge and support the work of mentoring initiatives across the world, recognising those making a difference. Unprecedented levels of mentoring are urgently needed, National Mentoring Day plays a key role in giving prominence to mentoring initiatives and a national voice to amplifying their mentoring stories, news, and services with the aim to encourage more people to become a mentor and seek mentoring.
There are thousands of mentoring initiatives and there are thousands of mentees that need mentoring, National Mentoring Day helps bring them together and raise awareness on the benefits of mentoring in all its forms across all areas of business, education, and society.

Benefits can include accelerated learning, personal and professional development, access to support, resources or networks. The mentee can receive valuable feedback and a new or different perspective on ideas. A good mentor can also help identify new skills, strengths, and spot areas of weakness.
Mentors help to inspire, motivate, and increase confidence or self-esteem and provide accountability for the mentee, this means goals can often be achieved quicker. Mentoring can improve the mentee’s ability to resolve challenges and in the case of business mentoring; the ability to grow and stay in business for the longer term.

Mentoring is a hugely gratifying experience and satisfaction comes from empowering the mentee, and with positive outcomes. The passing of knowledge is a great way of giving something back to others and encourages social and economic progress. Mentoring provides a real opportunity to make a difference to the development and success of others.
The benefits to the mentor can be improved confidence, leadership, and communication skills. Improved breadth of view, learning from the mentee’s area of expertise and meet different individuals. Enhanced ability to manage people, ask questions and improve soft skills; especially listening and a gain of transferable skills. Through mentoring you can pass on your values and help carry on your mission or legacy.

Mentors often become mentors as they want to give something back, pass on their life experience or because they realise that their own path would have been far easier or quicker, had they had a mentor at an earlier stage. Mentoring provides a great opportunity to facilitate personal or professional growth within an individual or business through the sharing of knowledge and experience.

They provide a safe space, listen, and ask questions – e.g., how? why? They are non-judgmental and can point out potential barriers and obstacles, challenge thoughts and offer guidance. Mentors share their own experience, insight, stories, and journey to help facilitate the mentees own thoughts.

Before you approach a mentor, you’ll need to think about what you are looking to achieve with the help of a mentor, then it is easier to find someone who has that experience. You can look for someone that you respect, admire, or choose someone from within an organisation or association that you are connected to i.e., place of work or externally. Check with your employer, college, university, or organisation to see if they have a mentoring initiative already in place.
Some organisations offer mentees to be matched with compatible mentors based on personalities, experience, and the identification of needs. Ask for recommendations in the same way as you would any other trade person or professional.

Decide what skills you are looking for in a mentor and then consider your own goals when choosing one. A mentor can often be a role model or someone you aspire to be like. Think about the barriers you are facing and whether the mentor has the experience to help you overcome them. Think about their characteristics, can you relate to the mentor, and do you respect them? Look at how they communicate; does it suit your style? Avoid a mentor who comes across as controlling, blaming, judgmental or a know-it- all!

Yes, some people have more than one mentor to benefit from different perspectives and provide experience or expertise in multiple areas. A mentoring relationship exists to help someone overcome the barriers they are facing, therefore if one mentor helps with one barrier, a different mentor may have more suitable experience to overcome a different barrier. It is well known that Richard Branson has many mentors to advise on different aspects of his diverse businesses.

Before becoming a mentor consider the available time you have to commit to mentoring and whether you want to work with individuals or in groups and with adults, children or youth and think about the location you would like to mentor in.
Look for a mentoring initiative near you that best matches your needs or by volunteering within your own organisation or an association you know, or by undertaking training to become a volunteer or professional mentor. Mentoring initiatives will often advertise when they are recruiting new mentors. National Mentoring Day takes place on 27th October and social media is flooded with mentoring initiatives from all over the world seeking mentors.

Mentors should have a desire to bring about change and a willingness to help others. A mentor should have good active listening skills whilst leaving their own agendas and egos at the door.
Mentors should have relevant experience for their type of mentoring, for example business mentors should have business experience or specialist experience that is valuable to all types of business e.g., technology, leadership. A good mentor will recognise when someone else is better placed to help their mentee overcome the barrier they are facing.

Someone who is committed to be able to invest time and effort into the mentoring relationship. The biggest skills required for a mentor is the ability to listen and then make an informed choice about the best approach to help the mentee with what they are facing. Being able to recognise potential, ask questions and have a positive upbeat attitude.
A good mentor will have a willingness to generate opportunities or contacts through the mentor’s existing network, be able to openly admit their mistakes or failures and discuss a wide range of issues offering honest and constructive feedback. The ability to build rapport easily, put the mentee at ease to encourage openness and trust, be reliable and a good listener. Having the desire to want to share information and knowledge is key in mentoring.

Professional training and qualifications are available which means that you can support your mentee in the best way and develop your skills to national standards. If available, it is often best to enroll on a course specifically designed for your type of mentoring.

Mentoring can improve employee engagement, loyalty and reduce staff turnover for both mentors and mentees. Employees can feel more engaged, empowered, and motivated. Mentoring builds a positive working environment and culture where employees feel more supported; it helps strengthen and improve employee interaction and relationships.
Mentoring can be linked to an increase in productivity, engagement and knowledge as well as improving leadership, communication, and management skills. Having a mentor is not only a confidence booster, but it can also alleviate stress, overcome challenges, and help improve mental health wellbeing at work.
The business benefits of mentorship are well proven to accelerate personal growth and performance, increase confidence, and transferable skills especially people skills, therefore it is especially useful as part of leadership development and provides a platform for assessment and accountability.

No mentoring is free – it can be free for the mentee to access, however, the costs are borne by another party, even if it is the mentor giving up their own time. The quality and length of mentoring depends on the individuals and organisations involved. Many volunteer mentors undertake training and have valuable skills just as professional mentors have.

A minimum of an hour a month is normally needed. Most mentoring relationships start with sessions every 1-2 weeks and then over time decrease in their frequency. It is up to each individual or organisation to agree the length and time of the relationship. Most first meetings will take longer than subsequent ones.
Agreeing levels of support that works for both parties is essential. It is important to discuss at the start of any mentoring relationship the frequency, duration, by what means the mentoring sessions will take place and when and where to meet; also consider how reviews will take place and if any records will be kept.

From the beginning establish a working relationship, timescales, expectations, boundaries, and key objectives. Be honest, open to feedback and willing to share relevant information. Be ready to develop new ways of thinking, behaviours and attitudes. Prepare for the mentoring process, setting goals, priorities, having realistic expectations and always review your progress and be willing to be accountable.
Ensure that objectives set are achievable and realistic. Prepare in advance for the mentoring sessions, it is your time, and you don’t want to waste time in the session covering things you have already discussed. Make sure you have done what you said you would do and are ready for the session, have questions prepared to ask.
Mentorship is especially productive when the mentor believes in the mentee, mentors are always surprised how much they learn from the mentee; mentoring is a two-way relationship and one of the most rewarding journeys you can embark on.

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