A mentor can take on several different roles in the course of a mentoring
relationship, depending on the requirements of the learner.
Adviser or Information Resource
This is a role that is often used when someone is new to an organisation, during an
induction period for example. The mentor helps the learner to develop their
understanding quickly, or to support their ongoing career development.
In this case, the mentor becomes a valuable source of information, and not just a
sounding board. The mentor may also share his or her experience to help the learner
to understand a particular work situation.
Focuses on Mentee’s performance management and productivity.
Coaching requires a belief that the learner holds the key to their own problems, and
a willingness to help them explore the issue including supporting thinking and
experimenting with new ways of working.
Mentor as a Coach:
• Determines and specifies Mentee’s needs in relation to work issues
• Works out how Mentee could improve performance deficit and helps to
explore the problems
• Develops alternative solutions and suggests which one to implement and
• Uses appropriate and timely feedback, supporting thinking, experimenting,
There are two parts of this: supporting the mentoring process and the content of
learning. This role includes helping the learner to clarify their goals, or their learning
The mentor may also help the learner to reflect on their experience and draw out
learning. They may also be able to provide the learner with theoretical models to
support their learning.
Another name for the role is Teacher/Tutor.
This role, interestingly, is the one that requires least effort from the mentor, because
it is usually about how they behave naturally.
The learner may have been attracted to them as a mentor because of the way that
they handle certain situations. The learner will therefore learn from watching how
the mentor behaves, both in the mentoring relationship and beyond.
So Mentor as a Role Model:
• Demonstrates how he/she behaves in different working situations naturally
and how he/she handles the issues
• Analyses together with Mentee specifics of working situations and own
reactions as well as partners behaviors
• Helps in applying Mentor’s approach and experience to the Mentee’s practice.
The role of critical friend is one of the most important, though most difficult,
mentoring roles to successfully undertake.
It requires the mentor to listen, encourage, draw out, reflect back and challenge
assumptions, and, if necessary, provide critical feedback on ideas or plans under
discussion, pay attention to points towards areas of development that may be
important, but less attractive.
The role requires giving constructive feedback, and strong emotional
intelligence and awareness of feelings.
The mentor may use counselling skills such as active
listening, reflecting and clarifying to help the learner to gain insight into their own
processes. The mentor may also take on a counsellor role if it becomes clear that the
learner is struggling with an internal block to their thinking.
So Mentor as a Counsellor:
• Helps to identify that Mentee has a problems (obstructive beliefs, feelings,
thoughts and behaviors), to analyze it
• Supports in defining internal blocks of thinking that made Mentee ineffective
• Helps in establishing desired outcomes and solutions in such situations
• Takes commitment regarding it and guides Mentee in setting and
implementing appropriate actions.
Focuses on building connections and finding partnership.
Mentor as a Networker:
• Has access to an extensive number of people and shares networks and
learning resources with Mentee
• Establishes Mentee’s learning needs in the realm of networking
• Facilitates between Mentee and people in the network
• Provides feedback and advice on networking skills.
Focuses on career progression and helps in adaptation to a new career role.
Mentor as a Guardian:
• Provides occasional advice on how to manage certain situations to advance
career, sometimes actively creates opportunities for it
• Guides in setting objectives that would be beneficial to their career
progression and advises on how to achieve these
• Shares information on company’s work to help in achieving new results
• Helps to understand a particular work situation.
Based on Pegg.M. (2006), The art of mentoring, Management Book, 2000