10 Mentoring Activities to Boost Engagement in Your Next Mentoring Session

Boosting engagement in your sessions is the key to successful mentoring. Both mentors and mentees need to feel excited and engaged in order to have an effective session that will facilitate growth and strengthen the relationship. 

Engaging sessions in effective mentoring relationships, has resulted in 87% of mentors and mentees feeling empowered by their relationships and developed greater confidence. 

So, how can you up the engagement and reinvigorate your mentoring relationship? Here’s our top 10 tips for mentor-mentee activities to do just that! 

1. Coffee chat 

In-person meetings build stronger relationships, so the next time you both schedule a session, take it to the great outdoors and grab a coffee or lunch for an in-person session. 

It’s been shown in recent years that 83% of Gen Z want managers to care about their life. So, over coffee or a quick bite, you can get to know each other better on a more personal level, discuss your progress, and current events around your work and life. 

2. Group mentor-mentee session

If there’s another pair of mentors and mentees with similar interests and goals, you can definitely schedule a group lunch session. That way, you get new perspectives on the same topics, as well as building relationships with your coworkers. When you already have shared interests and goals, mutual understanding and learning will allow for effective mentoring. 

3. Attend company mentoring events together

Less casual than grabbing lunch with other mentors and mentees, but attending mentoring  events together and talking to other pairs of mentors and mentees will open perspectives on mentoring techniques, and stimulate conversation around what is and isn’t working. 

By taking a step back and seeing how other mentoring pairs are working together you can also reignite excitement and energy in your sessions.

4. Job shadowing

Job shadowing allows for mentors to show mentees what they do on a day-to-day basis, giving them insight on the kind of work they do, who they have to interact with, and what kind of skills they may need. A more proactive and interactive mentoring session will help  mentees to become more engaged and allow for effective learning and development. 

Mentors can also shadow mentees too. Then they can  see their work first hand for their own development and offer deeper insight in sessions. 

5. Discussion of recent news or events

Have a session dedicated to understanding relevant news and events around your role, industry, or just current events in the world overall. This will allow both of you to widen your knowledge and perspectives on your careers and industry. These types of discussion  allow for the sharing of insights and opinions, further stimulating engaging conversations for learning and development. 

6. Problem solving session 

In addition to learning about current events, it is also a great idea  to sit down and go through a case study or problem solving session together. 

This is the time for mentees to ask mentors questions on how to tackle problems that may arise around their path to achieving goals, their work, their career or in the industry as a whole. Communicating, discussing solutions and direction of thinking will engage both mentors and mentees more in the session. 

7. Podcast or book discussion 

Similar to learning about current events or discussing the news, a podcast or book discussion allows both mentors and mentees to consume the same content that deep dives into a topic, and talk about their perspectives and for the mentees to broaden their understanding of the content. Active discussion of an interesting topic keeps both mentors and mentees engaged in sessions. 

8. Attend an event together

If one of you has an industry event coming up, bring your mentor or mentee along. Mentees can see how mentors interact with others at events, as well as gain industry knowledge from the event itself, allowing them to build both soft and hard skills. Events are also a great way for networking, so mentors can help introduce mentees, as well as build connections for themselves. 

9. Resume review session

A resume review session will allow mentees to walk-through their resume, and allow mentors to provide feedback on areas of improvement and where their mentees resume can be stronger. Taking in feedback and implementing it right away will allow for a more engaging and productive session in facilitating mentee’s career development. 

10. Reflective session

It is always good to have check-in sessions for mentors to see if mentees are on track with their goals. Short, or long, these sessions allow for mentees to reflect on their progress and look forward into what they have to do next. 

Mentors can also reflect on how well they think they are doing in mentoring, if there is anything else they could provide for their mentees and if anything needs to be changed in their mentoring style. Constructive feedback is always good for engagement and strengthening the relationship. 

It is also the time to celebrate successes, and positive energy in sessions boost self-esteem and engagement. 

These activities will bring in excitement, energy and engagement, which are key to a continuous and successful mentoring relationship. Now that you have some ideas of interactive activities for your next session, go ahead and schedule a session, discussing which of these activities you can start doing to achieve your, or your mentee’s goals. 

Advice for Businesses

Mentorship vs Sponsorship: The More is Better Approach to Personal Development

We get it, mentorship and sponsorship are often confused. And it’s easy to see why given that they have many similarities making it easy to see them as an either or personal development tool. 

Yet, when we look at the differences, you’ll see that they both work in slightly different ways and can be used together.

In fact, the more you know about the two practices, the better you can incorporate both into your personal development toolkit. Used alongside one another, you can turbocharge your people.

Read on to find out how, and remember to speak to our expert team to learn even more about how to make sponsorship work for you.

What is sponsorship?

As always, let’s start with defining our terms. Sponsorship is a professional endorsement from someone more senior that is aimed at getting the sponsee a tangible result.

For example, a sponsor may put their sponsee forward for promotion and provide a glowing reference to the hiring manager. 

Sponsorship is about putting your money where your mouth is and giving a worthy party your support.

The sponsor will also work with the sponsee to help them prepare for opportunities and give them advice, similar to mentorship. The key difference is that a sponsor goes above and beyond, actively opening doors for their sponsee.

Many companies have sponsorship programs, which they use to accrue new talent, help new companies to get off the ground, and of course, make themselves look good. Because let’s face it, the ability to fund a sponsorship program is a mark of success in its own right.

How is it different from mentorship?

Mentorship is when a person gives advice and guidance to a mentee. The goal is to assist them in their career and develop their skills. It’s a fantastic form of knowledge sharing to foster in your organisation. 

This is often an activity that takes place privately and involves regular meetings between mentor and mentees. Remember, just because a person is being mentored, that doesn’t mean that the mentor in question would be willing or able to sponsor them. 

Sponsorship is an extra level of support. It’s more formal and puts the sponsoring party’s judgment into the spotlight. A sponsor will promote their sponsee to other people, and if the sponsee doesn’t perform, this reflects badly on the sponsoring party.

Equally, if the sponsee does a terrific job, it proves the sponsor’s judgment. So, the stakes are higher with sponsorship. But what are the benefits?

📖 Find out more about what a mentor is in our guide 📖

download our mentoring, coaching and sponsorship e-book
Find out more in our sponsorship e-book

What are the benefits of sponsorship vs mentorship?

There are countless benefits when it comes to mentorship vs sponsorship. Here are some of the top ones: 

  • Career development: Mentorship and sponsorship can both be used for career progression and development. The old adage states that mentors will talk directly to you about your career, whereas sponsors will talk about you to influencers when you are not in the room.
  • Improved skills: Mentorship will improve the skills of the mentee, professionally and personally. As well as developing the mentor too!
  • Networking: Mentorship and sponsorship both introduce your mentee or sponsee to industry leaders and new circles.
  • Inclusion: For underrepresented groups, sponsorship and mentorship can give them support, advocate for them and, particularly sponsorship, break down systemic barriers. 
  • Impacts on mental health and well-being: Mentorship has powerful benefits to health and well-being. Both mentor and mentee benefit from connection, support and feeling seen, heard and valued. 

📖 Find out more about the benefits of mentoring for mental health in our guide 📖

The top benefit of mentorship

Mentorship isn’t about telling you what to do. It’s about finding the right people that can guide you through the many challenges and twists of your career. 

The main benefit is that in mentorship you get personal, tailored support. A good mentor will act as a sounding board and explore a range of topics with you from career advice to building skills to name a few.

📖 Find out how mentoring boosts employee wellbeing in our guide 📖

The key benefit of sponsorship

If there’s one thing you need to know about sponsorship it’s this…

Sponsorship is the act of going further. A good sponsor will be your champion and actively work to get you opportunities. 

An impressive resume is one thing, but it is fairly anonymous compared to when you have somebody vouching for you. Sponsorship works as a way to get opportunities that are often out of reach to the average person. In this way it’s a powerful tool for diversity and inclusion

Mentorship vs sponsorship decorative imageSo, do you need a mentor or a sponsor?

That’s the golden question!

Both mentors and sponsors are terrific for developing personally and professionally. You can be a talented and innovative thinker in your industry, but without great advice and support from somebody who knows how to navigate the industry, you won’t get the recognition you deserve.

A mentor will guide you to develop your strengths and set a path to achieve your goals. A sponsor will then be able to go a step further and shout your praises in order to get the tangible opportunities you deserve. This is an even greater level of support.

Ultimately, whether you need a mentor or a sponsor depends on what your goals are, and which barriers you are facing. If you are just getting started and are not ready to be introduced formally to your industry, a mentor might be the support level to look for. But remember, a mentorship can turn into a sponsorship given time and diligence.

If you’re finding it hard to progress towards a goal and want to find targeted support to open doors for you, finding a sponsor is best. Remember, in sponsorship it’s important to run through open doors. If your sponsor gets you an opportunity you need to be ready to grab it with both hands!

📖 Find out how to find a great mentor in our guide 📖

How can I implement a sponsorship program in my workplace?

Implementing a sponsorship program in the workplace carries many great benefits such as supercharged people development, improved culture, and better diversity and inclusion.

It’s important to design your program with a clear goal in mind and who you want to help. For instance, if you wish to sponsor underrepresented people to break down systemic barriers to progression and improve diversity in leadership, you’ll need to design your program to do this. 

📖 Find out more about best practice in program design with Guider 📖

Firstly, define and refine your company’s goals. Knowing what you are trying to achieve with this plan and how you will go about it is a big element of the planning. Then, whittle it down further with your founders and key stakeholders. This will get the program approved and also optimise it through your team’s guidance. Next,  ensure that you give the best support that you can to everybody that you sponsor. 

Remember, mentorship and sponsorship work well together. So, tying your sponsorship and mentorship programs into each other means you can provide the best level of support possible to your people.

If you’re looking for help setting up your sponsorship program, consider talking to one of our expert team members and get it going with Guider.

Advice for Businesses

The Different Types of Coaching and How to Make Them Work

In today’s always-on and ultra-competitive society, businesses know they have to invest more than money into their employees. A highly productive and proactive workforce results in higher profit margins – but an ill-equipped team could cause huge issues for any company.

With Business Mole reporting that employee turnover rates have increased by 9% from 2019 and a lack of training and support being one of the top reasons people quit their jobs, workplace coaching isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.

Although coaching others might seem daunting, it’s easier if you know what you’re doing and how to choose between the different types of coaching.

That’s what we’re here for.

So, sit back, relax and read on – because we’ll teach you about workplace coaching and how to make it work.

What is workplace coaching?

In simple terms, coaching in the workplace is giving an employee the skills, tools and training opportunities needed for them to become a productive team member. However, it’s important to distinguish between life coaching and workplace coaching.

While life coaching takes a more holistic approach, workplace coaching can be considered a dynamic leadership strategy, where management teams actively encourage professional development and monitor an individual’s performance.

Coaching can take place in-house, with leadership and management teams delivering sessions to individuals and groups – but many companies also choose an external coach.

External coaches can be beneficial because they have an in-depth knowledge of coaching techniques and know to identify areas for improvement.

🎙 For more on the importance of coaching, listen to our podcast 🎙

Workplace coaching is essential. Here’s why

To understand the importance of workplace coaching, we need to look at its many benefits and outcomes. They include:

  • A more engaged workforce.
  • Being able to define and convey a positive company culture.
  • Higher retention rates.
  • Better customer service.
  • Healthy competition between employees.

📖 Find out more about the benefits of coaching vs mentoring in our guide 📖

A mentor and mentee in session.5 different types of coaching you need to know about

So, now you know what workplace coaching is and its many benefits, it’s time to look at which types of coaching are most effective in a business setting. The type you choose will depend on the needs of your employees as a whole.

Executive coaching

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither are strong leaders. To be great coaches, leaders and managers must learn the necessary techniques.

Executive coaching equips top-level employees to identify performance weaknesses and develop their leadership skills.

Once a top-level executive understands how to assess the needs of each team member, they can offer support and work towards the far-reaching objectives of the business.

📖 Find out more about why coaching is essential for leaders in our guide 📖

Performance coaching

Performance coaching should be available to all employees, and its primary goal is to help people perform their job roles more effectively. Managers or even high-achieving co-workers can be performance coaches and teach valuable skills to others.

Effective performance coaching can improve employee satisfaction, boost productivity and ensure each employee builds a skillset that helps them achieve their goals.

Team coaching

Every business knows its success lies with the employees that make things happen, and team coaching can facilitate effective communication and collaboration between employees.

In many cases, the coaching is for management teams, who are responsible for ensuring workplace synergy.

Team coaching can also be for general purposes, or a professional coach can help a group when dealing with challenges at work.

Virtual coaching

Virtual coaching is pretty self-explanatory and takes place in a remote setting. For example, a coach could deliver sessions to an entire team or an individual through video conferencing software.

As long as the sessions are well thought out and the coach has experience in remote sessions, virtual coaching is just as effective as in-person sessions.

Peer coaching

You may have heard of peer learning, but did you also know that you can benefit through peer coaching too?

Peer coaching, as the name suggests, involves receiving coaching from someone in your peer group. Whether that’s due to a shared level of seniority or job level, your peers can give you coaching that’s targeted to your career stage.

download our mentoring, coaching and sponsorship e-book

What are the different coaching styles?

Coaching can only be effective if all parties are on the same page and agree on potential outcomes. There are four styles of workplace coaching:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Transformational
  • Holistic

Each style is different in its own way, but the one you choose depends on the needs of each individual or team.

Autocratic coaching

Autocratic coaching is popular in business settings because the coach takes control of each session. 

Professional clients who prefer routine and structure always respond well to autocratic coaches – but it’s also beneficial for addressing specific challenges.

Democratic coaching

Unlike autocratic coaching, democratic coaching is about giving the participants a say in the coaching style they receive and what they want to achieve from the sessions. The coach aims to offer support and motivation to ensure the client meets their objectives.

Democratic coaching is ideal for managers or individuals who know their goals from each session.

Transformational coaching

Transformational coaching offers even more flexibility than democratic coaching and is essentially a form of life or perspective coaching. This form of coaching can be highly beneficial for change management, confidence building and teaching leadership skills.

The participant and coach form an alliance where each party understands their role in the sessions.

Holistic coaching

While many workplace coaching forms are about improving an individual’s business performance, holistic coaching looks at all elements of a participant’s life. These include their personal goals, challenges, societal place, and work/life balance.

The idea is to address numerous areas of the participant’s life to develop their self-awareness, make better decisions at work and learn how to support others.

📖 Find out more about the difference between coaching and mentoring with Guider 📖

How do I know what to choose?

When choosing which form of coaching is best, there are many factors to consider. The important thing to remember is that each coaching type offers distinct benefits for organisations and individuals.

If you’re scratching your head wondering which is best, have no fear; here’s what you need to know.

Are you looking for team or organisational coaching?

Teams or entire businesses respond well to autocratic and democratic coaching because each offers a goal-orientated approach and is customisable. 

However, transformational coaching can also be great – especially if effective leadership skills are a top priority.

Are you an individual?

Individuals can choose any form of workplace coaching – because they’re all beneficial. Autocratic coaching could work if you want to reach specific goals and enjoy structure. However, democratic coaching offers more flexibility and can be empowering.

Transformational and holistic coaching are popular if you want to practice self-care, change your mindset and address other areas of your life.

Coaching can bring about sustainable changes to your business – and for each employee. Investing in a coaching and mentoring programme shows your team that you care about their development and are willing to invest in their futures.

More productivity, employee loyalty, and the ability to attract top talent… What could be better?

Want to find out more? Guider can help. We connect people worldwide for coaching and mentoring. Talk to our expert team today.


The 4 Stages of Building a Successful Membership Community

Whether you’re just getting started building a membership community from scratch, or trying to grow an existing community – we’re here to help!

Bringing a community together is not only hugely rewarding, but has tangible benefits for all involved. From networking to learning and growth, the best membership communities are ones that provide their members with real value. 

In this article, we break down the 4 stages of building a membership community with top tips on how to maximise each stage. Building a thriving community takes work, but with a little guidance, you can grow a successful membership community in no time! 

What is a membership community? 

Membership communities bring a group of people together around a shared interest. This can be professional or social but aims to unite people for support, learning and growth. In the workplace, membership communities are typically grouped by job function or by industry. 

They can also form an essential part of supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives. Communities can be made to bring people together around shared characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender or religion. These communities are often called Employee Resource Groups or ERGs

It’s important to note that membership communities can be paid for or free. This will depend on the goals of the organisers and what they intend to offer members. Paid communities often come with more benefits that simply cannot be offered free. 

Either way, the main focus is adding value to members through shared connection and growth. 

🏆 Find out how Guider is powering membership communities around the globe 🏆

The different types of membership community 

Next, it’s important to recognise that there are several different types of membership communities. They will all follow a similar structure, with a group of people coming together with a shared purpose or uniting interest. 

The different types of membership community are: 

Alumni networks

For schools, universities or other training programs, an alumni network connects people after they leave an educational institution. 

Alumni networks not only form a valuable way to connect former students for learning and career growth but have the added value of keeping students in contact with their institution. This forms an essential communication tool that means successful alumni networks can have a real impact on fundraising. 

Student network 

Similar to an alumni network, student networks connect people while they are still students. They can be set up to feed into your alumni network so it’s worth considering both if you’re an educational institution. 

With uses for supporting diversity and inclusion and onboarding, student networks are a valuable resource for providing targeted holistic support across your student body. Another benefit is that you can connect students and faculty for learning too. 

📖 Find out how mentoring can transform your university experience in our guide 📖

Professional network 

A professional network is the term used for membership communities in the workplace that connect people either by job function, as in a network for marketers, or by industry. They can be run internally or across multiple organisations.  

They can also be used to unite people by a shared characteristic for inclusion. For example, to support women in leadership, you can start a membership group in your industry that does just that. 

📖 Find out more about building community at work in our guide 📖

Mentoring network 

Membership communities can also be formed to provide a mentoring network to a group of people. Again, this can be cross-company or in one organisation. 

The aim is to connect people to mentors or mentees in order to share skills and grow. Mentoring is also a significant benefit for any membership community to offer its members. 

International Network 

As the name suggests, an international network is one that connects members around the world. Membership communities that work internationally, will need to adjust their offer to meet the needs of people in different time zones. 

Using virtual connection software, you can build you community worldwide and grow your membership even in different time zones. 

📖 Find out more about how Guider can help connect your people virtually 📖

4 stages to building a successful membership community

Here we run through the 4 stages that every thriving membership community needs to take, with top tips for maximising each stage. 

#1 Attracting

The starting point of any community will always be attracting members. Without members, there’s no community!

The most important step here is identifying what your community is about and who it’s for. This may be obvious in the planning stages, but it’s important to be specific about who can (and can’t) join your community. 

Communities with too broad a scope lose focus and those that are too narrow may struggle to find members. 

Once you’ve outlined the scope it’s time to…

  • Articulate the value: Why should people join your community? Who is it for and what’s the purpose? Creating a clear outline of your purpose will help you to communicate to new members why they should join.
  • Put together your benefits: What are you able to offer people in return? It may be networking, events or even discounts. Make sure the benefits of becoming a member are clear and easy to understand.
  • Make the network known: How can people join the community? Think about what platforms and tools your target audience are already using and start promoting your community as widely as you can. 

#2 Retaining 

Once members start to join you’ll need to make sure you keep them happy. It’s much easier to keep members that have already signed up than recruit new ones, so implementing a retention strategy early on is important. 

To do this think about: 

  • Internal comms: How are you communicating the value of your membership community? Whether you’re running events or providing other benefits, you need to make sure you are communicating clearly and frequently with your members.
  • External promotion: Creating a community that people are proud to be a part of means taking the time to keep promoting your successes externally as well as internally.
  • Growing your benefits: Your retention strategy should include how you are going to grow or extend your benefits. Can you thank people for their membership, for example with a yearly reward?
  • Maintaining a personal touch: People join communities to meet like-minded people and connect. This also extends to the community leader. Staying connected to your members is an important part of any retention strategy as it shows that you are invested. 

#3 Engaging 

A thriving community is one where there are lots of people actively engaging with the benefits that you offer. 

Having learned a thing or two about engagement here at Guider, here are our top tips for engaging your members: 

  • Be consistent: Whether it’s a newsletter or an event series, making sure you stay consistent and deliver what you say you will, helps people to engage. When there’s a consistent schedule to activity, it’s much easier for people to make time in their routine to participate.
  • Get feedback: Regular surveys and suggestion boxes give your members the opportunity to feed back what’s working and what’s not. This information is vital in ensuring you can offer your members what they expect and want to engage with.
  • Shout about your wins: A thriving community is a supportive community! Remember to shout about your wins, including praising and rewarding highly engaged members.
  • Test new ideas: As your community grows you may find that things need to change to keep up. For example, the communication channels that helped you reach your first 50 members may not be right to engage a group of 100. Test new ideas and stay open-minded to get the best fit for your people. 

#4 Growing 

Once you have a good base of members and are delivering value in your membership community, it’s time to start thinking about scale. 

In order to grow your community there are several top tips to think about: 

  • Incentivise referrals: Asking engaged members to recommend others to join your network and even rewarding them, is a fantastic way to grow your membership. It helps ensure that new members are engaged from the start. 
  • Grow your own network: As the founder or community lead, it’s important you stay active yourself in networking and finding new people to join your community. This means seeking out opportunities to connect to new people and promote your community.
  • Up your benefits: It’s important to review your benefits and make sure they are competitive to other membership communities and up to date. You can also collect testimonials to promote the benefits of your community. 
  • Connect to other networks: Setting up joint events and PR is a great way to reach a new audience. A good partnership is one with an organisation that has a shared goal or values to yours, therefore, a good cross-over for potential new members. 

Remember: It’s better to have fewer, highly engaged members than thousands of people that don’t contribute! 

What do you think, are you ready to see your membership community thrive? By following these top tips you can set-up a successful community that adds real value to its members. You’ll be connecting more people than ever for meaningful relationships and support. 

Ready to find out more? Talk to us about how Guider supports membership communities to scale, today. 

Advice for Mentees 

50 Questions to Ask a Mentor – That Get Results!

There’s a lot to be gained from finding a mentor. From increased confidence to better communication skills, it’s no wonder mentees are promoted x5 more often than those without. 

So, how do you make the most of the experience? Well, as with any learning that’s based on relationship building, it comes down to the questions that you’re asking your mentor

In order to make the most out of mentoring, it’s important to think about what questions you’re asking and why. That’s where we’re here to help!

In this article, we break down how to prepare for mentoring, what a good question looks like, and provide 50 example questions for you to use in your next mentoring session (maybe not all at once!).

Whether your relationship is new and you want to build rapport, or is losing steam after a number of years – we’ve got the questions to ask your mentor that will help you get on track!

How do I prepare for mentoring? 

First, let’s look more broadly at how to prepare for a mentoring session. Mentoring is a truly valuable experience. Luckily, the main thing you need to bring is yourself and an open mind. (Cheesy, we know.) 

If you want to really make a good impression, it helps to prepare before your session. This means thinking about the questions to ask a mentor as well as some other actions to help you get organised. 

Here are the top 3 things we recommend preparing for your mentoring sessions: 

1. Set an agenda 

An agenda for mentoring should outline the topics you want to cover and break down the structure of the sessions. Including your overarching goal in the agenda and any action points agreed upon in sessions, is a great way to stay organised. 

Share this with your mentor beforehand so they have a chance to add their notes and think about what they want to discuss too. 

2. Review your notes 

It’s easy to forget what was discussed in your last session, particularly if you’re meeting monthly. Take time to review your notes before your session. Keeping your conversation fresh in your mind means you’ll be able to get stuck in faster. 

It’s also an important way to make sure any outstanding actions have been taken in between sessions. We all know that life can get in the way! Add a reminder to your calendar to check in on what you need to do ready for your next session. 

3. Check-in with yourself 

Have you had a bad week? Maybe you’re feeling more tired than usual. It’s important to take a moment to self-reflect when working with a mentor.

We all have ebbs and flows. But we need to be mindful of what energy we are bringing into a session. Mentoring should be motivating and energising. Taking a minute to centre yourself and get in the right mindset for your session will help you make the most of the time. 

📖 Find out more about getting ready for mentoring in our guide 📖

Decorative image: a ginger man gives a thumbs up to his mentor on video chatWhat are good questions to ask a mentor? 

Next, it’s important to think about what makes a good question. We all know how to ask questions, but what about asking the right questions? 

In order to discover what questions are right for you, it’s important to consider the type of question you’re asking. Different question types will glean different information. 

Here we break down the different types of questions in more detail: 

1. Open questions 🙌

These tend to be based on who, what, when, where or why and open up the conversation. By this, we mean that they have a range of answers that go way beyond a simple yes or no.

These are your best bet for getting a conversation going and will make up most of the questions you ask in a mentoring relationship. 

Example: “Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?” 

2. Closed questions 🚪

As opposed to open questions, closed questions only need a yes or no answer. While they don’t get a conversation flowing, they are really useful for fact-finding and clarifying answers. 

It’s also good to remember that you can follow up a yes or no with more information. Sometimes explaining your answer can start the conversation, so don’t be afraid to elaborate! 

Example: “Are you Jarrod, my mentor?” “Yes, nice to meet you!”  

3. Hypothetical questions 🧐

Hypothetical questions are used to explore a scenario outside of the current reality. This question type is useful for expanding the conversation through wishful or imaginative thinking. 

They can be used to gain insight into how someone feels or what they want, without being limited by what is currently possible. 

Example: “If you could change one thing in your current role what would it be?” 

4. Feeling questions 👏

A feeling question is an open question that asks the responder to share something about their emotions on a topic. They help the conversation to go deeper and understand what the emotional drive or reaction is to a topic. 

Example: “How do you feel about your promotion?” 

5. Clarifying questions 🤝

These questions can be open or closed, the aim is to avoid confusion and take the fuzziness out of vague or broad statements. By asking someone to restate what they are saying in a different way, you can make sure you understand their meaning before moving on. 

Example: “Was this in the same meeting?” or “What specifically do you mean by X?” 

6. Extension questions 💪

This is when you ask additional questions that add to a previous question or the answer provided. They’re useful for developing critical thinking skills by focussing on a certain topic in more detail.

They’re also useful for showing listening. In mentoring, you want to build trust and show you are genuinely listening and responding thoughtfully – not just asking questions to keep the conversation going. 

Example: “What are the implications of…” or “With hindsight what have you learned” 

7. Learning questions 🧠

You can use learning questions to prompt thinking about past experiences. By reflecting on the past and drawing useful conclusions, you can aid learning and growth.

Example: “What could you do differently next time?” or “Have you been through something similar to this before?”

8. Challenge questions 🏆

A challenge question asks someone to question how they have come to a particular belief or opinion. It’s important when using challenge questions to keep your non-verbal cues relaxed and curious and to think about your tone of voice. 

This question type is great for mentors that want to challenge mentees’ limiting beliefs and encourage curiosity. 

Example: “What has led you to that conclusion?” or “Do you think that other people would see it that way?”

What are good topics to talk about with a mentor? 

There are so many things that you can talk about with your mentor! Many people seek mentoring to help them achieve a specific goal such as building a skill or confidence. 

In any case, the topics you can talk about with a mentor are broad. Here are some examples that we see coming up time and again on Guider’s mentoring platform: 

  • Communication
  • Public speaking
  • Networking
  • Negotiation
  • Confidence building
  • Career direction 
  • Work/life balance 
  • Leadership 
  • Relationship building 
  • Time management 

You can use these topics to steer your conversation and help you set mentoring goals.

📖 Find out more about setting goals in our guide 📖

50 great questions to ask a mentor 

These example questions will help you to get the right information faster and can form an integral part of your preparation for mentoring. 

Here we give you question examples broken down into sections:

Icebreaker questions to ask a mentor

  • What motivated you to become a mentor? 
  • Have you been a mentor before? 
  • Tell me about your career path. How did you get into X role? 
  • What would you say has been your greatest achievement? 
  • Did your career turn out as you’d hoped? 
  • What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your current role? 
  • What challenges have you overcome in your career? 
  • What are some common misconceptions in our industry?

Questions to build rapport 

  • What skills have been the most rewarding to develop? 
  • Would you recommend X training? Why? 
  • How did you develop your engaging public speaking skills? 
  • What do you most enjoy about your role? 
  • Can you think of a time when you did something wrong? What did you learn from it? 
  • Have you ever felt imposter syndrome? If yes, how did you overcome it? 
  • What common mistakes have you seen people make in my role? 
  • What are some of the biggest challenges faced in our industry today?

Questions for developing skills

  • How can I become a better negotiator?
  • What resources would you recommend to support my learning here? 
  • I want to improve my public speaking skills, can you help me work on my presentation? 
  • Can we role-play interview skills? 
  • What skills do you find most important as a senior leader? 
  • I’ve been asked to assemble a team strategy, how do you tackle creating strategies from scratch? 
  • What are some stress management tips that work for you?
  • How can I develop my time management skills? 
  • What advice do you have for building a successful team? 
  • How can I improve my decision-making skills under pressure?
  • What are some strategies for effective delegation? 
  • How can I build a stronger personal brand on social media? 
  • What are the skills you anticipate becoming more important in the future in our industry? 

Questions on managing relationships 

  • What are some techniques you could recommend for motivating my team? 
  • How do I let my manager know I don’t need to be micromanaged? 
  • How can I give feedback to my boss on a project? 
  • Who do I need to get on board with this decision and how? 
  • How can I build relationships with other teams across the business? 
  • What are some strategies for dealing with difficult co-workers? 
  • How can I build a stronger network in my industry?

Feedback questions 

  • Do you have feedback for me on my presentation? 
  • What do you perceive as my greatest strength? 
  • How am I perceived in the business?
  • Is there something I should be doing more of? 
  • How did I handle this situation? What could I have done better? 
  • Am I presenting myself well to senior leadership? 
  • I work hard to be strategic in my decision-making, is that coming across? 
  • How can I stay motivated when faced with setbacks? 
  • I need to deliver difficult feedback in my managee’s appraisal, how would you go about it? 

Questions for following up 

  • Can you send me that resource we talked about? 
  • How do you stay up to date with industry trends? 
  • I really enjoyed our conversation today, can we schedule another session?
  • Next time, can we talk more about X? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

There are, of course, a million other questions that you can ask in mentoring. Here are just 50 to get you started. And remember to write questions down as you go along and bring them to the next session. 

As your relationship grows, you’ll be able to go deeper and learn from one another. Questions form an important part of this so make sure you stay prepared! 

Do you have burning questions for us? Get in touch


Going Beyond Student Programs: 4 Ways Mentoring Can Transform Your University

Student mentoring programs are a fantastic way to connect students for career development and pastoral support. There’s a reason this is likely the first thing you think of when we tell you mentoring can transform your university

But student experience is not the only concern universities face. 

There are approximately 233,930 full-time staff working in higher education institutions in the UK and 2,901,584 people employed in Colleges and Universities in the US. This represents a vast number of people that need support too. 

From preventing burnout and boosting faculty retention to adding a tangible benefit to your alumni program – mentoring is the multi-function tool that will transform your university experience across the board. 

Intrigued? Well, here are the top ways that mentoring programs can support your university, today! 

📖 Check out 5 top universities that are thriving through mentoring for inspiration 📖

Student mentoring programs that foster inclusion 

Let’s start with the obvious one. Student mentoring programs are probably the most common way that mentoring is used in universities. There are a few ways to run a student program, the first is to use mentoring to foster inclusion in your university community. 

For example, at Kings College London, peer mentoring has been used to support BAME students. Much like a buddying scheme, new joiners are matched with 2nd or 3rd-year students to provide needed support navigating university life. 

Given the lack of representation in academia for BAME staff and students, providing people with mentors that relate to their experiences is a powerful way to foster inclusion. This benefits not only student retention rates but supports wellbeing and student satisfaction for underrepresented groups.

📖 Read more about how mentoring fosters inclusion in our guide 📖

Student mentoring program image

Alumni networks that provide real value 

Alumni networks are an important part of your university experience. Not only does your network build your universities reputation worldwide but it provides an essential channel for supporting former students and for fundraising. 

For starters, providing mentoring through your alumni network is another great way to support your student experience. Connecting your alumni to existing students opens up their network as they navigate the transition from education to work. 

On top of this, by offering mentoring to your alumni network you can provide an attractive benefit to joining. This means more alumni and a stronger community. 

Given that 89% of people that receive mentoring go on to mentor others, it’s highly likely that these mentees will choose to mentor your future alumni too. This creates a positive cycle of connection that can last a lifetime.  

Plus, let’s not forget that an engaged alumni network is an essential source of fundraising. Mentoring not only opens up connections for students past and present but can support your fundraising efforts long-term too! 

📖 Find out more about starting a mentoring program in our guide 📖

University mentoring programs that support your academic and core staff

Mentoring isn’t just for students and alumni. As we know, there are large numbers of core and academic staff that keep your university running. 

Attracting, retaining and developing talented employees is a must for any major employer today. A formal mentoring program is not only an attractive benefit to staff, but is essential in developing your people’s skills. It also fosters continuous learning, lifelong skill essential to any top-performing employee. 

Mentoring is a fantastic way to connect people across your university. Through a Guider mentoring scheme, you can connect siloed departments and upskill with ease. 

This will not only improve the skillset of your core staff but can go a long way to make people feel supported and valued in the workplace, improving employee wellbeing. Best of all, with a virtual mentoring scheme, your program can be run from anywhere. 

📖 Find out more about how mentoring software works in our guide 📖

Mentoring for better staff wellbeing 

Even before the pandemic, stress, burnout and anxiety were prevalent among university staff. When tackling these issues, it’s important not to underestimate the impact of poor well-being on retention and positive working culture. 

According to The Times Higher Education: “The most common reason for staff sickness within education was stress, anxiety and depression, making up 25 per cent, according to the statistics from January 2022.” 

Staff want to be listened to. They want a safe space where they can feel seen, heard and valued. Getting this right is the key to tackling burnout and supporting people with their wellbeing. 

This is where mentoring plays an integral role. Staff at Staffordshire University have found success through peer mentoring in creating formal support for their academic faculty. When peers come together both mentor and mentee take turns giving and receiving support, making it a powerful tool for mutual support. 

The results show that this is an effective way to provide holistic support to your academic staff, as peers understand each other’s challenges and can come together in a supportive, non-judgmental way. 

📖 Learn more about peer mentoring with Guider 📖

As you can see providing formal mentoring programs at your university can go a long way to tackling some of the most pressing issues faced in the sector today. 

Through different types of mentoring, such as peer to peer, you can support core and academic staff and your student body. And with mentoring software such as Guider, you can give access to mentoring to everyone through one smart, cost-effective solution. 

Want to find out more? Talk to our expert team today and see how we can transform your university experience.

Diversity and Inclusion

Why We’re Refusing to ‘Embrace Equity’ This International Women’s Day

Wednesday 8th March 2023 marks International Women’s Day. First celebrated in 1911, the day originally forms part of the wider movement for women’s rights to vote, work and be free of discrimination. 

A quick search will tell you that this year’s theme is ‘Embrace Equity’ with everyone encouraged to share a hugging selfie. The idea is that this year we want to promote the difference between equality and equity. 

Sounds great right? But what if I told you that the official theme set by the UN is actually DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality? It’s evidence-based and encompasses a tangible real-world issue that women and girls face worldwide. No selfies necessary. 

Each year, International Women’s Day is co-opted and this year we’ve had enough. 

What’s wrong with ‘Embrace Equity’? 

Let’s start by saying that we obviously believe in embracing equity.

Individuals need different tools to overcome systemic barriers. And advancing the rights of women around the globe means recognising that we need the right tools to do it. This is where equity is essential. 

But what we don’t need is to ‘embrace’ equity with a selfie on social media. Who does this serve? 

It makes the fight for gender parity look warm and cosy. It frames the ongoing fight for women’s rights as something frivolous. It prioritises a catchy buzzword over impact. And, to be frank, it’s patronising. 

Can you imagine any other cause telling people to hug themselves to a better future? No. 

Because when we reduce the fight for women’s rights to a catchy phrase and hand gesture that lacks substance, we’re missing a vital opportunity to talk about the real-world impacts of a lack of equity.  

We don’t need to embrace equity with a fluffy selfie. We need to continue to fight for it through ongoing action and education. 

What the UN’s goals mean for women’s empowerment

That’s why we’re choosing to support the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day: DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality

It focuses attention on the digital skills gap between genders. And given that 259 million fewer women than men use the internet, there is a clear, gendered barrier to accessing digital skills. 

This has lasting impacts on:

  • which careers women can pursue,
  • our contribution to the STEM fields that shape our future, 
  • And women’s access to essential information and services. 

On top of this, the theme highlights the disparities in women’s safety online. Women and girls are more likely to experience harassment and violence in digital spaces, adding another barrier to access. 

Based on research and evidence the UN’s theme has clear real-world impact and goals. It highlights a specific and important issue that impacts millions of women and girls worldwide.

Why we support DigitALL at Guider 

Look, we’re all for educating people on the difference between equity and equality. We even put together a guide to help you. 

But we’re also here for tangible, evidence-based initiatives that get results. The UN’s theme is specific, actionable and backed up by stats. That’s what we like to see. 

Because here at Guider, we know how important it is for women to have the tools they need to upskill, find support and progress in their careers. And without essential digital skills and access to the internet, women and girls will be left behind. 

We’re already using our tech to give access to mentoring and peer learning to women around the world. We believe in the power that mentoring plays in supporting not only digital upskilling but in breaking down systemic barriers for women across industries such as tech. 

So, if you’re looking for ways to support closing the digital skills gap for women in 2023, here are 3 ways that mentoring can help: 

  • Digital upskillingOne benefit of mentoring is its ability to upskill at scale. We are far more likely to retain knowledge that’s been imparted by a person we trust. Making mentors essential for learning.Pairing people across your organisation that have key digital skills, with those that want to learn, is a fantastic way to share knowledge and develop your employees.
  • Opening up access in techWe work with companies such as Reed to power mentoring programs that connect women in tech with the people they need to succeed.Mentoring creates pathways for women to network, plan their careers and grow in order to access promotions and other opportunities. Given the lack of representation for women across industries such as tech, it’s essential that we provide additional support.
  • Creating specific, measurable pathways to successIt’s time to make supporting women specific and impactful. With mentoring software, you can create tailored program objectives and track progress all in one place.No more fluffy women’s empowerment goals. Set yourself up for success by mapping out a clear plan of how you’re going to support women and close the digital skills gap. Best of all you can measure, monitor and improve your program along the way.

📖 Find out more about some of our work supporting women through mentoring here 📖

In order to reach true gender parity in our lifetime, it’s essential that we address the digital skills gap. To do this, we need to create woman focused tech and provide access to essential digital skills.

That’s why this International Women’s Day, we’re supporting the UN’s official theme. We believe empowering women through tech is essential. Without it, we cannot create an equitable future for all. 

Are you ready to join us?