Advice for Businesses

How to Create a Mentoring Culture in Your Workplace

To improve participation and the positive effects of mentoring, you should develop a mentoring culture within your business. A culture of mentoring, collaboration and encouragement of continuous learning.

Mentoring has been proven as an impactful learning and development method, as well as to improve employee mental health, reduce isolation (especially while working from home), ease new employees into the workplace, and make people feel supported and encouraged. This is exactly why you should seek to create a mentoring culture, that normalises and solidifies mentoring in the workplace.

Find out more about embedding mentoring in your HR initiatives with Guider

What is a mentoring culture?

A mentoring culture is when an organisation successfully fosters the principles of learning, knowledge sharing, and personal development. It goes above and beyond the running of select mentoring programs, and instead is a foundational value of a company as a whole. A strong mentoring culture makes mentoring accessible to every employee, and encourages both formal and informal mentoring across the spectrum of business life.

While you may offer a number of mentoring programs, the benefits are often not felt outside of those specific groups, such as graduates, employees from BAME backgrounds, or new managers. The rest of your workforce could have no idea that mentoring is even on offer, or how to go about getting involved. This is a downside of running mentoring programs and a challenge organisations face when they are unable to scale mentoring initiatives.

A mentoring culture takes more time and investment to create than a mentoring program, which is why many organisations struggle to do so. If you’ve proven success with a few programs, and are looking to instil mentoring into your company culture, take a read of our tips below.

Creating a mentoring culture in the workplace

How do you create a mentoring culture?

A mentoring culture isn’t something you can build overnight. It will take time, effort, and support from a number of key people. Here are some of our top suggestions for creating something longer lasting than a few mentoring programs…

Get the C-suite on board

We know we say this all the time, but it’s because it really is one of the most effective ways to impact company culture.

Behaviours filter down from the top, and so if the leaders in your organisation are advocating for mentoring, it won’t be long until people start to take notice.

Understand who the key stakeholders are in your company and come up with some strategic ways of appealing to them. Whether its retention rates or employee happiness, make a business case for mentoring that will resonate best with your senior leaders.

Utilise statistics and case studies that prove the power of mentoring to support your case.

Break down silos

Mentoring commonly exists in silos within organisations, limited to Learning & Development functions, or specific departments who have set up their own initiative. This lack of cohesion when it comes to how mentoring is conducted, or who can be involved, is a big reason for mentoring cultures being unsuccessful.

A way round this is to create guidelines for how mentoring is done within your business, so that if any team or group wants to start a program or find out more, all the information is consistent.

It will naturally help to already have senior leaders on board here, so they can promote mentoring across the business and make sure everyone knows that it’s a company-wide initiative rather than departmental.

Make mentoring accessible

Similarly, it’s important that mentoring is accessible to your workforce. If you have to reach out to 3 different members of staff, or get referred to the program through a convoluted process, it’s never going to be something that’s embedded in your company culture.

Having a go-to place to find out more about mentoring and easily sign up will increase participant numbers and make it a seamless process.

Using something like Guider, and having it embedded in your internal system, will mean people can find a mentor of their own accord without having to contact anyone.

Find out more about Guider mentoring platform here.

Instil mentoring into onboarding

A simple way to foster a mentoring culture is providing every new employee with a mentor. That way, from a person’s first week within your company, they can see that personal development is a key value.

89% of mentees go on to be mentors, and so by including mentoring in your new hire onboarding, you’re also investing in a future pool of mentors.

Foster momentary mentoring

You can create a mentoring culture by encouraging small, spontaneous, moments of mentoring. This is where employees find opportunities to support each other, collaborate and give feedback.

Middle and upper management especially should look to create moments of positive reinforcement, seek opportunities to reach out to their teams, and encourage employees to reach out to them. It creates a more cohesive workplace where employees feel comfortable with speaking to employees on all levels, especially when seeking advice.

This is similar to having a culture of feedback, or the ethos that ‘no question is a stupid question’. Ultimately, the goal is to encourage daily learning and personal growth, creating waves throughout the company.

Encourage mentees to take the lead

Promoting independence of mentees can help create a mentoring culture, by encouraging their confidence and growth. For example, by managers suggesting mentoring as a way to improve, they will empower mentees to take responsibility for their development. This is true not only of traditional mentoring, but group or reverse mentoring as well.

With Guider, mentees take the initiative by contacting their chosen mentor first. By having a stake in their mentoring, mentees are more likely to enjoy and continue their mentoring programme. They’re also encouraged to take the lead through setting SMART goals, communicating what they need help with and also arranging meetings.

This confidence infects itself throughout the business, as mentees learn to communicate their ideas more often and more effectively in meetings, and talk to employees outside of their team, creating a more connected workplace.

Embrace inclusivity

The increase in working from home has taught a lot of companies the benefits of having a flexible workplace. Through the implementation of video chat, instant messaging, and virtual social or educational meetings, we’ve seen the value of having different avenues of communication for employees.

58% of employees have even reported an increase in productivity when working from home. This has been something many people with disabilities have pushed for in the workplace, to aid their participation.

By adding mentoring to your workplace inclusivity plan, you aid in creating a more accommodating and empathetic space that helps employees on all levels. Supporting virtual work options gives room for virtual mentoring, creating flexibility for busy employees, allowing international communication, and including disabled employees who struggle to get into the workplace.

Mentoring also helps to create more diverse leadership, supporting your goals for more women, BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled employees in senior positions. Using a mentoring software such as Guider helps to remove human biases when matching manually, and gives employees the freedom to select who they’d like to be mentored by. Creating a mentoring culture that supports your inclusivity goals connects the wider workplace on all levels and in turn, builds empathy across the business.

Celebrate mentoring success

Finally, celebrating success is one of the best ways to create a mentoring culture. As mentioned earlier, a mentoring culture is one that encourages and supports continuous learning. When you celebrate success, you reinforce goals and positive habits; you inspire other employees, and encourage them to support each other.

To do this you need to embed mentoring into your communications schedule. Think about newsletters, social media, your company’s intranet and running events to celebrate the success of your program. Engaged participants can share their stories and advocate for the program moving forward. Or you can incorporate rewards into the program, such as awards and hold an event to celebrate the work of your mentors and mentees.

Whatever you choose to do, don’t forget to celebrate the hard of work of your program leads and HR team that have championed mentoring and facilitated successful and rewarding connections.

Advice for Businesses

Top Mentoring Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Despite mentoring being a highly successful learning and development strategy, it doesn’t come without its challenges. Whether it’s planning, communication, matching, time commitment or the sessions themselves, it’s good to be prepared for any potential mentoring challenges you might encounter. In this article, we’ll explore the top mentoring challenges faced by program managers, mentors & mentees, and talk you through how to overcome them.

Top Mentoring Challenges for Program Leads

Those managing mentoring within an organisation may face a number of challenges, from program design to low sign ups. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here are some of the top mentoring challenges you may be experiencing, and some tips for how to tackle them:

How Do I Generate Interest?

So you’ve got your mentoring program designed, your key objectives set, and you’re ready to get started – but you’re worried about potential sign up numbers. This is a very common mentoring challenge and one that needs to be tackled early on in your planning. There’s nothing worse than designing and launching an entire program, for it to simply be ignored by fellow employees. Building a base of eager mentors and mentees can take time and patience, but education is key! Here are some ways to overcome this mentoring challenge:

  • Share Social Proof

As humans, we like to see things to believe them. In order to build trust in your program, and the concept of mentoring as a whole, share messaging that will resonate best with your audience. Gather individual success stories of the positive impact of mentoring from people within the business from previous mentoring cohorts. For example, if it’s a graduate mentoring program, speak to past graduates about their experience and ask them to share their story over video or a blog.

If mentoring is a first for your organisation, try finding stories of famous mentors and mentees, or we have some examples from Guider customers.

  • Emphasise the Benefits of Mentoring

Some people may be unfamiliar with the benefits of mentoring, particularly the benefits for mentors. Mentoring is a learning and career development opportunity for everybody involved, and it’s important to articulate that value. Your most motivated employees will be eager to know that:

  • Mentees are promoted 5 times more often than employees without mentors.
  • Mentors are 6x more likely to be promoted.
  • 89% of mentees believe that their coworkers value their work vs 75% of non-mentees.
  • 87% of mentors and mentees report feeling empowered and having increased confidence (sources).

Mentoring is empowering and impactful, increasing skills and confidence for both the mentor and mentee. Use our guides on The Powerful Benefits of Mentoring and Mentoring Statistics to help you with your promotional plan.

  • Get Senior Leadership on Board

One of the biggest ways to generate interest is by encouraging senior leaders to sign up. Behaviour from the top filters down, and having leadership buy in gives the mentoring program more weight. This will naturally make people be more aware of the program, and inspire more people to get involved. It also reinforces a culture of learning and growth, as employees see colleagues at every level participate.

Run an internal campaign aimed at senior leaders and influential figures within the company prior to your campaign for participants.

Resource: Explaining how a Mentoring Software works

How Do I Find Mentors?

It may be difficult to find mentors, as many will worry about a lack of time or experience.

But mentoring is a two-way street, where mentors also learn a lot from mentoring. They develop communication skills, leadership skills and develop connections across teams and departments, building a stronger company culture.

You can combat their concerns by offering training and support. Offer them a library of resources, something you’ve compiled yourself or choose to use a mentoring platform like Guider which hosts a wide range of resources. It gives mentors something to refer to, and acts as a teaching guide to aid mentees.

Run educational events on mentoring, breaking down common misconceptions and reiterating the value for mentors. This will help more people understand what’s expected of them, and renew their confidence in their ability to be a mentor.

What Happens If There’s a Bad Match?

One of the mentoring challenges you might eventually face is a mentor and mentee that just don’t get along. A good way to prevent a bad match is by using a robust matching system like Guider’s. When you match manually, you risk not having enough time, and personal biases getting in the way, potentially obstructing any diversity goals. You can reduce the risk of having a bad match by considering matching them on both skill and common ground:

  • Their hobbies
  • Their skills
  • Their strengths and weaknesses
  • Their goals

Help mentors and mentees create a safe space that allows them to comfortably communicate. Encourage them to speak about their strengths, weaknesses, mistakes, fears and motivations in order to build trust.

But sometimes, two people just don’t get along. Avoid pushing a relationship where there isn’t one, as participants might end up fading away if they feel there is no out.

Create clear guidance on what to do if it’s not working, and make it visible and accessible to everyone at the onset of the program. Emphasise that it’s okay for them to contact the program manager to find a new mentor/mentee, and to be honest early on.

There are the top challenges for the people managing the mentoring, now for those actually doing it…

It is vital to discuss any mentoring challenges

Top Challenges for Mentors & Mentees

Mentoring relationships themselves can be challenging, particularly when you’re being a mentor or a mentee for the first time. Here are some of the top challenges you may face in your mentoring relationship or sessions:

Lack of Commitment

As mentors and mentees, it’s important to remember that mentoring is for your personal development, rather than another work task.

If you feel your commitment waning, firstly try to get to the route of why. Are you stressed from work and having trouble keeping up with the sessions or goals? Are you struggling to contribute in the sessions? Are there feelings of worry or embarrassment? Are you not getting what you expected from the relationship?

Just like any relationship, these feelings can be alleviated by communication. Once you’ve identified the cause of your lack of commitment, raise this in your next session with your mentor or mentee.

If you’re a mentee who struggles to commit because you feel that there’s too much pressure, discuss this with your mentor, programme manager or your company’s mental health champion.

Poor Communication

Following on from this, another common mentoring challenge you might run into is poor communication.

This could be about expectations, goals, intentions, issues, or simply a busy schedule. Clear communication helps to keep the mentoring relationship flowing, and creates a stronger bond between mentor and mentee. It’s hard to develop a proper mentoring relationship when communication isn’t there.

If you find the sessions quite daunting, remember that not all communications needs to be formal – create micro-moments where the two of you can speak casually about work, life and how your plans are moving along.

  • Mentoring communication isn’t just limited to face to face
  • Video communication allows you to talk from anywhere and still perceive each other’s expressions
  • Telephone communication works well for shorter conversations or where there’s a weak internet connection

Everybody communicates differently, so make sure you learn about your mentor or mentee in your early sessions so you can communicate in a mutually beneficial way for the rest of the program.

Communicate Stressors

Similarly, different things stress us out. Accepting our differences and working around them is a critical life and work skill, and so this is another thing to discuss early on in your relationship.

I.e Voice that last minute changes to schedules stress you out, so that your mentor / mentee is aware of it from the onset of your sessions. They can then work to avoid doing that.

If at any point in your ongoing relationship you feel:

  • That the check-ins are too frequent or not frequent enough
  • That your SMART goals are too unrealistic
  • Something is harder than you anticipated
  • That you’re not being as helpful as you could be

Don’t be afraid to voice them.

Mentoring is meant to be beneficial, not an additional stress to your busy working life.

Communicate Wins

On the other hand, make sure you’re communicating successes and celebrating progress! Let your mentor / mentee know if:

  • They’ve said something that has inspired you
  • They’ve taught you something that you plan to take on
  • They’ve helped you achieve your goal
  • They’re opened your eyes to a new perspective
  • You are proud of them
  • You are thankful for their support

While open and honest conversation is crucial for issues, it’s also important for the good stuff! It can be reassuring, particularly for first time mentors, to hear the sessions are genuinely benefiting their mentee. Similarly, mentors should praise mentees on their progress to further strengthen the relationship.


A potential challenge in a mentoring relationship is the mentee becoming overly dependent on their mentor. Messaging for every question they have, and taking up time beyond the agreed session or time commitment. This can lead to disgruntled mentors and may prevent the mentoring program’s success.

While resources ought to be available to participants, it’s important to take initiative as a mentee in any way you can. For example, is there an article or video that can answer your question? Are you going out of your way to advance your learning and act on something your mentor suggested?

An important aspect of mentoring is to develop skills, and independence in those skills. If, for example, your goal is to improve self-confidence, you’ll need to do things that take you out of your comfort zone. Sometimes that begins with being the first one to contact your mentor, arranging meetings, or eventually leading a project.

Unrealistic and Mismatched Expectations

Everyone from program managers, leadership teams, mentors and mentees might have big hopes for the results of mentoring. Some people will put pressure on others and themselves to achieve these results as soon as possible.

Individuals work at different speeds. Sometimes people are building on what they’ve previously learnt, others are starting from scratch, and others are working on moving past bad advice. Work with each other to set realistic goals through setting  goals. They act as realistic, motivational goals but also serve as a reminder that learning takes time.

If a mentor or a mentee expects too much or too little of the other, it can cause problems down the line in the relationship. Have an open and frank discussion at the beginning of your mentoring program about what you are expecting from the sessions and the relationship as a whole. You can then come up with a set of mutual expectation which can form the foundation of your relationship – maybe even write these down!


We’ve explored some of the mentoring challenges mentors, mentees and program managers might face during their mentoring programs.

Open communication between mentors, mentees and program managers is one of the most important aspects of a successful mentoring program. When we understand each other’s aspirations and motivations, it helps to create a more successful program with fewer roadblocks.

Want to find out how Guider can help? Get in touch with our team!