Many Things to Many People: Research on Mentoring Schemes Management


A guest blog written by Dr Judie Gannon
Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management (Coaching and Mentoring)
Subject Coordinator – Doctorate in Coaching & Mentoring
Oxford Brookes Business School



While there is extensive evidence of the benefits of mentoring relationships for mentees and mentors, there is less research evidence on what it means to design and manage a successful mentoring scheme. This is despite widespread recognition that there are an increasing number of mentoring schemes being developed in diverse sectors, from the arts to youth services, professional associations to social justice and across all education levels.

There have also been very few studies of mentoring schemes which draw upon insights across sectors. Instead, the focus has tended to be on learning from schemes operating in the same context. However, this approach means that new mentoring practices (such as speed or e-mentoring), administrative systems (methods of matching or utilising IT) and tackling challenges (mentee engagement or mentor recruitment) are not being shared beyond specific settings. As a former mentoring scheme director, and now an academic in the International Centre for Coaching & Mentoring Studies (ICCaMS) at Oxford Brookes University, I was keen to understand more about running mentoring schemes, to be able to generate and share best practices across different sectors. From a personal perspective, I also wanted to learn about others’ experiences of managing mentoring schemes and find out how they tackled some of the challenges I had faced.  Our report is the first real insight into how mentoring schemes are designed and managed across sectors and suggests we have a lot to learn from schemes in very different settings. 

Our survey and interviews are summarised in the report,  ‘Many Things to Many People’, available via our website here.  It splits the data gathered into three areas, identified as the 3 Ps (Purpose, Practicalities and People). In the Purpose section the different reasons for running mentoring schemes, their funding and the details of their mentors and mentees are discussed. The Practicalities section focus shifts to identify which new forms of mentoring (speed and e-mentoring, for example) are being used and how these sit alongside traditional one-to-one mentoring. This section also contains data on how schemes match mentors and mentees, use IT systems, deal with managing participants’ expectations and evaluate mentoring over the short and longer-term. The final section explores the People, who are typically behind the scenes, managing schemes and ensuring mentees and mentors having meaningful learning experiences. In this section the findings highlight just what a challenging but rewarding role mentoring scheme management is, from dealing with the minutiae of supporting individual relationships to managing stakeholders and securing resources for their schemes’ survival.

There is still the opportunity to contribute to this research as we are keen to increase the response rate as much as possible. You can participate by following this link to the online survey (it will stay open until the end of January 2020) and help develop the knowledge and understanding of mentoring schemes and their management.

Dr Judie Gannon