Many things to many people: Formal mentoring schemes and their management: A report


There has been in a shift in mentoring where more organisations, whether they are based in the private, public or third sector, are using mentoring schemes to tackle issues of development and disadvantage. This ‘turn’ in mentoring from private, informal relationships to organised formal relationships is achieved through formal mentoring initiatives or schemes. This study provides a deeper understanding of the size, scale and practices of formal mentoring schemes where previously the focus has been practitioner literature on how to run schemes or schemes operating in specific sectors. Using a mixed methodology approach the study highlights key issues pertaining to the foundations of formal mentoring schemes, their processes and practices and the people who coordinate the mentors, mentees, stakeholders, funders and wider beneficiaries. A framework of the three P’s is developed where the first ‘P’ is the ‘Purpose’ of schemes and captures the diversity of issues that formal mentoring schemes attempt to address. The focus of the stated purpose of schemes appears to be the driving force behind their engagement with stakeholders and operations. However, this theme of purpose also identifies how schemes have to tackle issues of intersectionality to connect with participants and those who fund formal mentoring initiatives. The durability of formal mentoring schemes also tells a mixed story of triumph over uncertainty and cost-conscious ways of operating which may not always play in favour of smooth processes. The second ‘P’ is the ‘Practicalities’ of formal mentoring schemes and highlights the forms of mentoring adopted by schemes as well as the processes and practices used to deliver schemes. The challenges of juggling practical administrative tasks, alongside the support of personal relationships, and more strategic scheme promotion and fundraising is highlighted here. Finally, the third ‘P’ of ’People’ relates to those who have previously been obscured in most research on formal mentoring schemes; mentoring scheme coordinators. This investigation reveals the extent of knowledge and expertise used and developed by mentoring scheme coordinators and their experiences which makes this a potentially rewarding role that can also be isolating. We conclude by highlighting the understanding the research brings to the field of mentoring and reflecting on some of our research decisions and deliberations. We also suggest next steps in practical and more strategic terms for our burgeoning understanding of formal mentoring schemes and their management.

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Gannon, Judie M.
Washington, Rhianon


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-02-17

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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