Benefits of mentoring — evaluation of the evidence

Benefits of MentoringThe most comprehensive literature review of the benefits of mentoring that I have ever read was by Dr Bob Garvey and Ruth Garrett in 2005. They used over 100 studies of mentoring evaluations, case studies and research projects to produce their report for the East Mentor’s Forum supported by The East of England Development Agency.

In brief, this is what they found:

The benefits of mentoring for the mentee

  • Improved performance and productivity
  • Career opportunity and advancement
  • Improved knowledge and skills
  • Greater confidence and well-being

Benefits of mentoring for the mentor

  • Improved performance
  • Greater satisfaction, loyalty and self-awareness
  • New knowledge and skills
  • Leadership development

The benefits of mentoring for organisations

  • Staff retention and improved communication
  • Improved morale, motivation and relationships
  • Improved learning

However, when I was asked to recommend some recent studies on the benefits of mentoring to a client, I found to my dismay that most of the published research was over 10 years old or focussing on very specific niche programmes. There appears to be a complete paucity of evaluation literature across different types of programmes. So I decided to pull together some of the outcomes of mentoring from our evaluations of mentoring programmes for Coach Mentoring Ltd in the last year to share.

Generic outcomes across all types of mentoring programmes

These includes benefits around developing:

  • Self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Other aspects of emotional intelligence (social competence, motivation, self-regulation, empathy)
  • Successful career progression, leadership ability and talent development
  • Retention of employees and organisational engagement
  • And the transfer of tacit knowledge and knowledge productivity.

However, there are also some more specific outputs and outcomes from our evaluations, which are worth noting and considering.

Some other themes we have identified in mentoring in 2018

Corporate in-house mentoring schemes

  • Finding out more about other areas within the organisation/signposting to useful people/ more effective networking/managing internal politics
  • Vital intervention for the development of future and current managers
  • Developing the skills and knowledge of mentors themselves as leaders and managers
  • Pushes mentees to challenge themselves/think outside the box/gain clarity on own thinking, decision making and problem solving
  • Raises the mentee’s insight and view of the bigger picture; turning negatives into positives; mentees feel less isolated in their dilemmas
  • Positive relationships with mentors at a senior level helps to bridge the gap in working with more senior leaders and to understand people at a more senior level giving a tangible operational benefit
  • Gendered programmes – really helps the mentees to become better prepared for their roles, and particularly develops engagement and motivation.

Across organisational programmes

  • As mentoring pairs are not in the same organisation, the mentor asks more naïve questions, which offers more clarity to the mentee’s thinking through creating enhanced reflective space and time to think
  • Offers an impartial external perspective on work-related issues, progression, goal setting, and potentially more is gained from a mentee perspective
  • Gaining a broader view of a sector and potential collaboration between organisations for mentors and mentees.

University in-house mentoring programmes

  • Finding out more about different career routes, new insights on career choices
  • Sharing networks in new sectors is so helpful
  • Insights for mentors on what is currently on the university curriculum
  • Really helps the mentor think about how they have managed their own career and to reflect on choices they have made
  • Finding out more about the academic system in the UK (mentees and mentors).

In conclusion, it is really important to ensure you evaluate your mentoring programmes effectively. Otherwise some of these nuggets of feedback would have been completely missed. Certainly doing this exercise myself has absolutely reinforced for me the value of good robust mentoring and the need to evaluate it. I hope it is helpful to refresh your thinking too and do get in touch if you would like to discuss mentoring or how to evaluate it further?

Garvey, B., Garrett-Harris, R. (2005) The Benefits of Mentoring, a literature review for East Mentor’s Forum supported by The East of England Development Agency, Sheffield Hallam University.

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