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Scottish Government mentoring scheme

[public domain and from People Management Awards submission in year 3 of the project]

Summarise the key outcomes of the project, outlining the contribution made to the business since its introduction:


Over 280 staff including 30% of the Senior Civil Service complement have been involved with the scheme in the three years since starting, and we have 75+ partnerships on the go at any one time. Mentoring produces benefits to the organisation, to the mentee and also to the mentor. In a recent survey of 110 participants in the scheme conducted by an external third party we found:

  • 80% of mentors: "significant benefits in learning to help others find their own solutions to work problems"

  • Almost all (97%) reported improvements in their own listening skills

  • 25% of mentors reported significant benefits to themselves in relation to professional growth

  • a similar proportion found mentoring helpful in working through their own obstacles and difficulties 

  • 91% said they would like to do more mentoring and would recommend it to a colleague.


We asked mentors to assess the benfits of the programme to their mentees:

  • Over 75% perceived strong benefits for mentees in clarifying and understanding situations

  • 66% thought it had helped a lot in building mentee self knowledge

  • 64% thought it had helped their mentee deal more effectively with obstacles and difficulties

  • 42% felt their mentee had been able to implement ideas more effectively in the face of resistance

  • 30% felt it had helped their mentee build wider networks of support, influence and learning.


Among the mentees we found:

  • 95% satisfied with relevance to their work, the same satisfied with relevance to their personal development

  • 30% of mentees reported they got “a great deal” of learning and new skills for their future career from the process

  • a futher 57% reported getting “quite a lot” or “some” such benefits

  • 20% had got “a great deal” of learning and skills for their current job, and 63% “quite a lot” or “some” benefits.


Mentees also identified a wide range of specific benefits including building rapport (58% reported the got “a lot” or “huge” benefits), being supported and developed (69%), working a route through difficulties (71%), maintaining a sense of perspective (80%), building self knowledge (64%), and building wider networks (31%). 91% of mentees said they would recommend mentoring to a colleague.


We have created a scheme which appears to be sustainable, by starting off with clarity on scope, skills and process; by providing “just enough” prior training, ongoing resource material and follow-up support for mentoring partnerships; by not putting pressure on participants and recognising that engagement in a mentoring partnership needs to be on the basis of willing participation, comfort with the process, and opportunities to opt out when otherwise overloaded; and by having the attitude that many managers are in fact able and capable and can become ‘good enough’ mentors with the right preparation and support.


Sustainability indicators are:

  • every mentor willing to mentor again and a number have taken on a series of mentoring partnerships

  • every mentee willing to become a mentor in their turn, 60% already deployed as such

  • all feel able to get their own mentor, without central assistance, whenever needed for the foreseeable future

  • several Departments have started planning their own emulation schemes for other layers of staff.


Our own assessment is that these results indictate benefits to the wider organisation in terms of:

  • increased energy, self confidence, motivation and engagement via contributing to the development of others (mentors) or through being able to work on difficult issues in a safe and supportive environment (mentees)

  • knowledge management: valuing and supporting the role of experienced practitioners in the workplace; giving  opportunities to reflect on best practice; systematically supports knowledge sharing between offices

  • manager, leader and ‘employeeship’ development by stimulating coaching skills and enhancing management styles, and encouraging mentees to drive the partnership

  • helping the organisation re-balance formal and informal learning by enabling individuals to develop the skills to take ownership of their own learning and development

  • diversity mindset  by assisting staff to develop a attitudes which value difference as well as similarity; by building up links between colleagues in similar and in different areas of work

  • capacity building by developing a pool of trained and experienced mentors for future learning partnerships either within the scheme, or independently but following its good practice.