Marks & Spencer Making a Difference With Mentoring
Nicola Cronin
4 minutes
February 27, 2020

In the Deloitte 2019 Millennial Survey, 49% of millennials said they would quit their current jobs in the next two years if they had the choice. Besides being dissatisfied with pay, the top reasons for this were:

  • ‘Not enough opportunities to advance’ at 35%, and
  • ‘Lack of learning and development opportunities’ at 28%

The requirements of the workforce are changing. With more emphasis on personal development and workplace wellbeing than ever before, companies need to address how they’re supporting their people to keep them fulfilled and progressing at work.

How Marks & Spencer are using mentoring

One organisation doing just that is Marks & Spencer, who Guider started working with in September 2019 to take their mentoring programme to the next level and get more people benefiting from self-development.

In such large organisations (Marks and Spencer employ over 75,000 employees) it can be a challenge to foster a unified and cohesive culture. With many people often only working with their direct colleagues, they lose visibility over the business as a whole and the impact they are having. An effective way of tackling this problem and breaking down silos is through workplace mentoring. Rather than just running more external team-building or training sessions, mentoring allows organisations to look inwards and harness the people and the skills they already have.

But the problem with traditional mentoring programmes is that they are difficult to manage, measure, and scale. They can also be subject to subconscious bias, and often lose momentum. A mentoring software like Guider takes these difficulties away, making mentoring more accessible across all levels of a business, with minimal admin and maintenance.

“Before we signed up with Guider, we had a very ad-hoc mentoring system, there wasn’t any science behind it. You were very much still in your silo’d area, so we needed something more structured. What Guider has done is opened that up, so you can now be a mentor or a mentee with anybody in the business… It’s been a real eye opener for me for how easily we can connect all the different people within the business, and not only connect them, but share everybody’s fantastic skills.” – Suzie King, Programme Manager

From many mentees on the programme at M&S, being mentored by somebody in a completely different business area to them is one of the most valuable things. Getting exposure to new perspectives from someone they would never have the chance to meet gives employees additional support figures outside their team, as well as a more well-rounded view of the business.

And this type of support is invaluable. Mentees have reported increases in confidence, self-assuredness, and motivation since joining Guider and meeting their mentor. One mentee has even received a promotion after their mentor encouraged them to apply, showing how the program is already having a true impact.

Read More: Why Mentoring is Important

Emma Burrell (left) mentors Nicole Edwards (right) at Marks & Spencer
Emma Burrell (left) mentors Nicole Edwards (right) at Marks & Spencer

While mentoring can traditionally appear an individualistic pursuit, if organisations can successfully create and grow a company-wide mentoring culture, everyone can benefit. Through Guider, M&S employees can request multiple mentors with varying experience, to help them with different areas of their personal and career development.

And the mentors are also hungry for it! James Newton-Brown at M&S, is currently mentoring 5 people, and spoke to us passionately about what’s in it for him:

“Every day that you come into contact with different types of people and work through different challenges, issues, successes, you learn something. Every single time you have a conversation, you learn something about people’s behaviour, you learn something about their motivations, and you learn something about yourself…it’s rich, it’s rewarding…it’s a win win.” – James Newton-Brown, Head of Product Development

Picture of James Newton-Brown using an ipad
James Newton-Brown, Mentor at M&S

‍With more mentors adopting this outlook, the traditional idea of ‘giving back’ being the only reason someone would become a mentor, is fading. In fact, since using Guider, reverse mentoring is taking place at Marks & Spencer of its own accord.

Rob Davies, who has been at M&S for 25 years, has been overwhelmed with how much he’s learning as a mentor in his relationships through Guider. Reinforcing the value that mentoring has for both parties:

“I’m getting a lot of help in reverse, particularly in the digital technology and technical systems worlds, in addition to understanding new parts of the business such as HR and Logistics. So it’s genuinely a two-way relationship. What I can give in return is a bit more expertise and guidance, and I am also learning a huge amount of new stuff that I wouldn’t normally touch”. – Rob Davies, Head of Network Change & Implementation

In this regard, mentoring is a highly impactful way of creating an inclusive workforce, and tackling diversity issues such as ageism, ableism and others. Considering 41% of IT and tech workers have witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, and 32% fear losing their roles due to ageism, mentoring offers a human focused, mutually beneficial solution.

It’s brilliant to see the positive impact taking place in Marks and Spencer in under six months working with Guider. We’re delighted to be helping M&S grow a community within their organisation that is focused on personal development and people.

Watch the full case study here

What's next?

Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways Guider can help you supercharge your L&D with mentoring:

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We've crunched the numbers from all of our customers to work out the financial value of mentorship to businesses. It might be just what you need to get executive buy-in

Build your own mentoring programme

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The Complete Mentoring Toolkit
Everything you need to create and scale an effective workplace mentoring programme. Includes: setup checklist, matching guide, expert advice, proving ROI and much more.

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