Group of mentees high fiving

What is Mentoring? – An Introduction

On the topic of mentoring, Eric Parsloe, experienced international executive coach-mentor and one of the founders of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council eloquently said –

“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.”

In this blog, we go ‘back to basics’ and discuss what is meant by mentoring, the roles involved in the mentoring relationship, and why a mentoring programme can be of benefit to all involved.


What is mentoring?


At its most basic, mentoring allows the transfer of knowledge and skill between individuals – and lays the foundation for this transfer to take place. This can occur in a variety of settings, including the workplace or an academic institution, such as a school or university.

Those involved in the mentoring process include the mentor (those with the advanced knowledge, providing the teaching) and mentees (those who are looking to grow their knowledge, through their Mentors experience).

Within a business environment, this process may look like a manager or established staff member sharing their own insights with an individual who is newer to the business, offering an opportunity for the mentee to seek guidance from the mentor.

Academically, students can gain additional opportunities to discuss career progression and further their learning opportunities from their mentor – through mentoring programmes and support provision, university establishments can reinforce their commitment to teaching, and have doors opened to new ideas and opportunities.

If you want to hear from some of our current customers about how they use mentoring programmes in their educational, business, and third-sector organisations, you can visit our case studies page.

When it comes to running a mentoring or coaching programme, depending on the setup of this or the size of the organisation, there may be many bodies involved, in any number of capacities – including administrators, and programme leads. No matter the programme’s size or capacity – there will definitely be mentors and mentees.

What is a Mentor?


A mentor is an experienced and knowledgeable individual who provides guidance, support, and advice to a less experienced person in their professional or personal development. Mentors are typically individuals who have achieved success and have a wealth of knowledge and experience in a specific field or industry.

Mentors play a crucial role in helping mentees set goals, develop skills, and navigate challenges. They offer insights and wisdom based on their own experiences, helping mentees avoid common pitfalls and make informed decisions. Mentors can also provide valuable networking opportunities, introducing their mentees to important contacts and resources.

What is the role of a mentor?

A mentor will act as an advisor, and coach, to the mentee. They aim to provide leadership by championing the mentee, teaching through guidance – and encouraging the mentee to acknowledge achievements, or where improvements or adjustments can be made. They are a sounding board and a helping hand along the mentee’s journey.

You can expect a mentor to be somewhat of a role model, encouraging – and providing emotional support as your work towards goals.

What is a Mentee?


A mentee is an individual who is seeking guidance and support from a more experienced and knowledgeable professional, known as a mentor. Mentees typically have specific goals or objectives that they are looking to achieve, and they look to their mentor for guidance, advice, and feedback to help them navigate their professional or personal development.

What is the role of a mentee?

A mentee has their own responsibilities within the mentor-mentee relationship and the benefits of a mentoring programme are far more likely to be reaped when an equal effort is made on both sides.

Mentees must hold themselves accountable for their learning and development – and engage actively with their mentor. A mentee should be willing to accept constructive criticism and be open to new ideas of working, with readiness and keen acumen for learning and improving their skillset.

A willingness to seek and undertake personal development opportunities, while openly seeking feedback in order to grow and adapt will also play a key part within the mentee role.

Student Mentoring

Benefits of mentoring


If you follow sfG MentorNet on social media, or if you’re signed up to our mailing list – you will likely have seen us continuously shouting about the benefits of mentoring. The list is (almost) endless, and each individual has their own benefit to gain – depending on the specific programme they are participating in, or their personal goals.

It’s important to note, that the benefits of mentoring are not just exclusively for the person being mentored, they can be found for both parties.


Benefits to the mentor include:


The opportunity to build on leadership skills and personal development – such as confidence.

Not always the case, but often – most mentors tend to work with mentees who are younger than they are. Even if this is not the case, each individual mentee will come from a different life, work and economic background and experiences will vary. This allows not just the mentee to learn but provides the mentor with a new perspective and grants the ability and opportunity to grow and develop via fresh insight.


Career rejuvenation through feeling empowered, and new learning opportunities

Sometimes, despite enjoying the work that you do – you may begin to feel a bit ‘stuck’, Perhaps things you used to find exciting about your workplace or career, no longer provide that same feeling or spark of interest. With mentoring, you can re-discover the love you had originally, by sharing your experiences with a mentee. This can leave you feeling more empowered and learning new things along the way.


An increased satisfaction in the knowledge that they are teaching the next generation ‘best practice’

This may be particularly accurate for those who own and work within their own business, and who would like to build a workforce who understands the importance of working in the way that you do, to see the best results. You do not want to strip the individual personalities of a mentee, of course! However, mentoring provides an opportunity to pass on your particular methods, safe in the knowledge that you are passing on best practice techniques.


Improved time management and organisation skills through working with the mentee on their progression

Mentoring takes time out of your day-to-day life, but there’s no doubt that by working alongside a mentee you will gain improved time management and organisation skills. Generally, mentoring is a great way for your own skillset to develop, even in areas you didn’t realise could be adapted and grown!

One person mentoring a mentee

How can mentees benefit from mentoring?


Active encouragement in their personal, academic and work-based goals

A staggering (but not surprising!) 87% of mentors and mentees feel empowered by their mentoring relationships – this can be through active encouragement and the support provided by each individual. Mentors can provide a real sense of purpose and respect to mentees, through their relationship. This, in turn, can act as encouragement and motivation towards goals.


Increased perspective on career opportunities

Mentors can provide mentees with additional, invaluable, real-life experience and insight in terms of future career opportunities and what to expect within that career or industry.


Developing their own mentoring and leadership skills

It is said that around 89% of individuals mentored, will mentor someone in the future. Through their mentoring experience, a mentee will be provided direct inisght of the mentoring relationship and will be given a first-hand experience of the difference it can make. While mentoring someone, you may be educating the future mentor of your programme!


An increased confidence due to the guidance and feedback from their mentor

By providing a safe, supportive setting in which a mentee can comfortably share ideas, paired with the honest, reliable feedback and the encouragement provided by a mentor –  people with mentors benefit from higher confidence in themselves and are given the boost required to positively work towards and achieve goals and personal development targets.

Mentoring: Our Conclusions


The aim of mentoring is to built up the capabilities of a mentee, but there is no doubt that mentoring programmes can play a large part in the lives and abilities of the other parties who are involved in the programme.

The above, are just handful of the benefits or reasons in why you may consider becoming a mentor, or mentee. A mentoring programme for your university or workplace may be considered for a number of reasons such as providing a way to increasing diversity and inclusion, developing talent, or lowering staff turnover risks.

How sfG MentorNet can help


Whatever your mentoring programmes needs are, we would be delighted to speak with you further to hear about your plans and provide a free demonstration of our sfG MentorNet platform – a secure, online system that allows matchmaking, ease of communication between mentees and mentors, and much more.