UK: Business Mentoring – A Guide For Mentors And Mentees

Last Updated: 5 September 2011

Business mentoring can be a highly effective way to improve business performance. A business mentor is "someone whose hindsight can become your foresight". This article is a guide both for prospective business mentors and for individuals seeking 1-2-1 business mentoring. It answers several questions:

  1. Business mentoring – what is it?
  2. What is the role and value of the business mentor?
  3. What are the benefits for the business mentor?
  4. What are the benefits for the mentee?
  5. What makes a good business mentor?
  6. What makes a good mentee?
  7. How to manage the business mentoring relationship?
  8. What remuneration can a business mentor expect?

1. Business mentoring – what is it?

Business mentoring is often confused with management consulting and business coaching, but it is different.

  • Management consulting is based on the expertise, knowledge, skill set and technology of the consultant. The consultant's skill set is focused on building their own internal resources, in order to apply them for the client company's benefit.
  • Business coaching assumes that the client has the necessary capability and helps them to discover it for themselves.
  • Business mentoring targets the personal development of people who are well versed in their fundamental technical skills but need extra assistance in other skills areas, expertise or knowledge.

2. What is the role and value of the business mentor?

This article is about 1-2-1 business mentoring, not group business mentoring such as you find with Vistage, the Academy for Chief Executives and similar organisations. Group business mentoring can work but tends to be less effective than 1-2-1 business mentoring.

Business mentors lever their knowledge and experience by providing advice, counsel, network contacts and political and cultural know-how, together with ongoing personal support and encouragement. The business mentor's interest is to foster the career development of the mentee.

The value of business mentoring to the organisation

At its best, business mentoring is a process that activates the skills of the mentee within their current role and helps groom them for their next. Business mentoring helps them to produce high quality decisions that define them, their authority and their effectiveness. A business mentor provides a confidential sounding board, thinking room, and support for working through crucial and often complex decisions.

Business mentoring can also help organisations to retain their best people and increase staff loyalty.

Business mentoring programme quality

The quality achieved in a business mentoring programme often hinges on the expertise of those establishing the programme in achieving the right fit between mentee and mentor. The best results are often achieved when the mentor and mentee like and respect each other and where the personal chemistry is right.

3. What are the benefits for the business mentor?

The primary beneficiary of a business mentoring programme will be the mentee, but those who mentor can find themselves benefiting in unexpected ways. In the most successful business mentoring relationships there is always something in it for the mentor, not just for the mentee.

Benefits for the business mentor can include:

  • personal development – growing by growing others
  • increased job satisfaction
  • honing of skills such as coaching, listening, giving feedback and adapting your leadership style
  • development of self-knowledge and self-awareness.

While these may be "softer" benefits, there are also harder benefits that your mentee can deliver to you:

  • sharing their network of contacts with you
  • giving you a temperature check of the organisation (what is really going on)
  • raising your visibility within parts of the organisation that would not otherwise be aware of you.

4. What are the benefits for the mentee?

A business mentor, by virtue of their experience, will be able to help the mentee steer through the organisation. Perhaps more importantly, the business mentor will help the mentee to understand some of the more informal ways of getting things done and some of the unwritten and unstated ways of working (the world of corporate politics!), and therefore develop the mentee's professional expertise and career.

The business mentor is someone with whom the mentee can discuss and work through concerns or opportunities that they may not want to expose to their immediate superior. Indeed, it may be that the superior is one of the mentee's concerns. Remember, the superior may well be under pressure to come up with short-term deliverables, and may therefore not be sympathetic to the mentee's longer-term career goals.

The mentee may feel that they are working in an environment that does not fit with their preferred ways of working. They may not even be aware of this, perhaps just having an undefined feeling of things not being quite right.

Talking with someone such as a business mentor, who can bring a wider perspective, may help the mentee to recognise what is happening and identify the culture that is right for them.

5. What makes a good business mentor?

As a good business mentor, you will have certain characteristics.

  • You will have a strong desire to help others to grow and develop. You may in the past have been referred to as a "gardener manager". Ideally, you will have a track record in developing others.
  • You will have a strong understanding of how organisations work (formally and informally), and ideally a knowledge and understanding of the key players in the mentee's organisation. You will combine this with an understanding of both the strategic direction of the organisation and what its drivers and those of the wider industry are.
  • You may feel that you have more to offer than you are currently contributing.
  • You will have strong listening skills.
  • You will be self-aware.
  • You will be able to understand and deal with cultural and gender differences and be sensitive to these differences.

Be honest with yourself: if this is not something that sparks you, then do not take on a mentee – it will not be fair on the individual, or on yourself.

The practicalities of business mentoring

There are some things that you, as the business mentor, will need in order to optimise the return on your and the mentee's time.

  • Make yourself available and accessible to your mentee. Where you have contracted to meet every so often, you should be sure to honour that commitment.
  • You may need to provide some initial structure to the business mentoring relationship, particularly if the mentee is relatively inexperienced.
  • Follow through on any actions you pick up in your meetings, thereby demonstrating to the mentee your commitment and your professionalism. "Do as I do" is a good motto for the business mentor.

Being a business mentor requires you to be highly skilled in listening, coaching, giving feedback and, where appropriate, pushing the mentee along faster than they think they can go. Furthermore, you will need to adjust your style as the mentoring relationship develops and according to the issue you are addressing at any one time.

6. What makes a good mentee?

A mentee must, of course, be prepared to take feedback. But to get the greatest possible benefit from a business mentoring relationship, there are several other things a mentee must do.

  • Own the business mentoring relationship

First and foremost, the mentee must own and take responsibility for the business mentoring relationship. Owning their career is an important principle of career development. No one has more interest in, or more to gain from, the progression of the mentee's career than the mentee.

  • Be proactive in the business mentoring relationship

This means taking the initiative and setting the pace – with the agreement of the mentor. The mentee must look at the business mentoring process as a project they are managing: as with any project, they should set milestones and make sure that they are achieved.

  • Manage the business mentoring agenda

The mentee, not the mentor, should define the agenda of the business mentoring programme. If the mentee does not work out what it is they want to do, they are in effect handing it over to others to determine their direction.

  • Set objectives for the business mentoring programme

It is essential for the mentee to:

- set himself or herself some objectives to work on during the mentoring relationship

- discuss these objectives with the business mentor and obtain their agreement

- write the objectives down and give the mentor a copy

- review these objectives regularly with the mentor.

  • Progress actions

The mentee also needs to make the business mentoring programme action-oriented, and always follow through on those actions they agreed. It is reasonable to expect that the business mentor will do the same.

7. How to manage the business mentoring relationship?

Be systematic in managing the business mentoring relationship, focusing on the three key areas:

  1. The first meeting
  2. The business mentoring contract
  3. The ongoing business mentoring relationship.

(A) The first meeting

The first meeting between business mentor and mentee serves four purposes:

  • To get to know each other better

This can start with some introductions, followed by a brief run through what the business mentor and mentee have done in the past. This is important, not only as an ice breaker, but as a way for both parties to decide if they are happy to continue beyond the first meeting.

  • To articulate and agree expectations

Different or unrealistic expectations can be the cause of business mentoring relationships not working. Unrealistic expectations include:

- the mentee expecting the business mentor to sort out their next job

- the mentee expecting the mentor to make their own personal network of contacts available to them

- the mentee expecting the mentor to tell them what to do – or, worse, to do it for them

- the business mentor expecting the mentee to do exactly what they tell them.

  • To set and agree ground rules

Ground rules are things such as frequency and length of meetings.

  • To set objectives

The mentee should come to the meeting with some draft objectives covering what outcomes they would like to achieve through the mentoring. These should be discussed and agreed with the business mentor.

(B) The business mentoring contract

By the end of the first meeting, you will be in a position for the mentee to go away and draw up a business mentoring contract by which you will both work. This covers some important principles, such as confidentiality. It also provides structure and ensures that mentor and mentee have a common understanding of how they will work together.

The business mentoring contract will cover some or all of the following:

  • frequency of face-to-face meetings and/or telephone meetings, with a schedule of dates
  • mechanisms for communicating between meetings (for example, email or phone)
  • duration of the business mentoring relationship
  • a statement on confidentiality that applies to mentor and mentee – usually the Chatham House Rule
  • tracking and review of the business mentoring process and reporting back
  • objectives – a statement of what they are, plus dates for review
  • scope of the mentoring – it is usually best to be explicit about what is and is not included
  • a statement from the mentee agreeing that they will be proactive and drive (project manage) the business mentoring relationship
  • date for final review and closure – although the mentor and mentee may decide to continue beyond formal closure.

(C) The ongoing business mentoring relationship

Both the mentor and the mentee have a role to play in managing the ongoing business mentoring relationship.

The deal for the business mentor is to honour the terms of the contract:

  • achieving agreed objectives and reviewing outcomes
  • attending the agreed meetings and not rescheduling
  • following through on any actions agreed
  • respecting confidentiality
  • exercising skills such as listening, giving feedback
  • as the mentee and the relationship progress, stepping back and adapting your style to fit the new circumstances.

The mentee's responsibilities are:

  • to be proactive, ensuring that the terms of the business mentoring contract are adhered to and that scheduled meetings take place
  • to ensure that the objectives jointly agreed at the first meeting are being worked on and the outcomes tracked thereafter
  • as they grow in confidence and experience, to take the lead and lessen any dependency they may have on the business mentor
  • to aim to move towards closure on the formal business mentoring relationship
  • finally, to think about what they can do to make a contribution back to their mentor.

8. What remuneration can a business mentor expect?

What can you expect to earn from business mentoring? It's a little like "How long is a piece of string?", because it depends on whom you are mentoring, the value you are adding, and who is paying the bill!

However, as a general guideline, your business mentoring fee could be between £50 and £500 per hour.

Typical business mentoring contracts are for four hours a month, delivered in one or two sessions, over a period of six to twelve months. However, we have several clients whom we have been mentoring for over four years.

TCii Strategic and Management Consultants offers a 1-2-1 mentoring service to people who wish to become business mentors themselves.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions