Supporting Mentors with Mentoring Supervision

In the course of developing mentoring programmes, we have been faced with the challenges of how to support and educate mentors at varying stages of development in order to facilitate their ethical practice and ongoing progression as a mentor.

This may be frequently complicated by the mentors being part of a wider organisational programme, where access to the mentors, resources (people and funding) and motivation to spend more time on the programme, can all be very limited.

Mentors tend to be volunteers who are mentoring for a very small part of their working time and tend to have busy and stressful day jobs. In contrast to professional full time coaches, selling the benefits of mentor supervision to part time voluntary mentors can be a harder sell. Offering supervision to your mentors is now seen as an essential ingredient of a high quality mentoring programme.

Stages of Mentor Development

We work with you to define the level of supervision that is required and look at the stages for mentor development (see the 2003 article Mentor Development & Supervision: “A Passionate Joint Enquiry”) developed by Lis Merrick and Paul Stokes through their practice in mentoring programmes.

The novice mentor

Someone who may be new to mentoring. This does not mean they are totally untrained or unskilled, but that they have relatively little experience as a mentor. Supervison provides an ethical check on their skills from both their own and the programme perspective.

The developing mentor

Who has some experience of mentoring ‘under their belt’ and understands the ‘rules’ within their particular scheme/context. They will now need to explore a wider range of approaches to improve their effectiveness.

The reflective mentor

Someone with a fair amount of experience as a mentor. They are probably aware of most of the different approaches to mentoring theory and practice and are looking for deeper critical reflection.

The reflexive mentor

The reflexive mentor is someone with considerable experience as a mentor and may even be a mentor supervisor.

And don’t forget mentee support!

Mentees also benefit from regular group support during the programme to ensure they are using their mentors in the most effective manner and to give them a safe space in which to reflect. Developing mentees is critical in producing a skilled mentee who is in the driving seat and can get the most out of their mentoring experience!


I want to know more!

Get in touch and one of the team will contact you to see how we can help.

Mentor Supervision

Contact us to discuss or arrange individual or group mentor supervision for your programme.

Supervision in coaching

Coach Mentoring also support coaches with supervision, get in touch to find out more.


Mentor Supervision offers mentors

  • Mentoring on their own practice
  • The time to explore techniques and help with their problems
  • An opportunity to reflect on their own practice
  • Help and support if they feel out of their depth
  • Support with ethical issues.

How to Supervise?

A heuristic for mentor supervision

Most mentor supervision takes place as group supervision as part of regular focus group sessions within the life-cycle of a formal mentoring programme. Lis Merrick and Paul Stokes have reflected on the paucity of new material since they published their own research on mentor supervision.

What is Mentor Supervision?

Our research shows:

  • Being a mentor to the mentors,
  • Being able to explore techniques and help with problems,
  • An opportunity to reflect on own practice,
  • To support a mentor who feels out of their depth,
  • As a mark of good practice for the profession,
  • To support with ethical issues,
  • To be available for the mentor as an emotional safety valve.

This echoes Barrett's (2002) work, which puts forward the following benefits of being supervised:

  • Preventing personal burn-out,
  • A celebration of what I do,
  • Demonstrating skill/knowledge,
  • Helping me to focus on my blind-spot(s),
  • Discovering my own pattern of behaviours,
  • Developing skills as a mentor,
  • A quality control process; and
  • Providing a different angle on an issue.

For more information about how we can support you with mentor supervision, please contact us today, or send a quick enquiry:

Develop, Inspire, Enthuse