Using Mentoring To Boost Employee Performance


Mentoring focuses on helping an individual acquire the skills necessary to do their job and possibly further their career. The mentee sets the agenda based on their own development needs, and the mentor provides insight and guidance to help them achieve their desired goals.

A mentee is usually someone with little or no experience of either work in general or the type of work they are going to be doing in particular.

Conversely, the mentor should be someone who has plenty of work experience in general and knowledge of how your business operates in particular.

This guide will help you find out about mentoring, how it can be introduced to your business, and how you can use it to improve the performance of your staff.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a supportive form of employee training that many experts believe should be independent from other training activities.

Mentoring usually takes place outside the conventional top-down employee-manager relationship.

Instead, the mentee sets the agenda based on their own development needs, with the mentor providing guidance to help the mentee achieve their goals.

What are the differences between coaching and mentoring?

Although ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ can overlap, they perform different functions:

  • coaching is aimed at developing a person’s skills and knowledge in a specific area of work leading to achievement of an objective
  • mentoring is the long-term provision of guidance to someone less experienced in order to support their general development at work.

Coaching is:

  • proactive
  • generally short term
  • structured to achieve an objective
  • concerned with performance at work
  • based on the coach directing the learner
  • focused on specific skills and development areas

Mentoring involves:

  • a reactive approach
  • an ongoing relationship
  • the mentor guiding the mentee
  • a focus on the overall development of the mentee
  • listening, offering advice and making suggestions
  • a broader view of the person – personal issues can be discussed
  • an informal and less structured provision – meetings take place as and when the mentee needs guidance

Try to avoid a situation where an individual is mentored by their immediate manager. This is because combining the management relationship with the more personal and equal nature of the mentoring relationship could damage the former.

However – for smaller businesses – it may be more difficult to avoid immediate managers being mentors. In these situations, you could consider external mentors.

There is another form of mentoring – business mentoring – that focuses more on the overall needs and goals of a business, rather than an individual’s personal development. To find out more, see nibusinessinfo’s guide on the benefits of business mentoring.

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