How to build a mentoring culture

Critical to business success is the creation of an environment where people want to join the organisation, perform and commit to stay. Yet, developing and sustaining a positive organisational culture is easier said than done.

In The Ripple Effect, Melissa Richardson pointed to a set of human needs that, when met, can create positive organisational culture. These include:

  • A sense of belonging
  • Having a voice and being heard
  • Communication
  • Opportunity
  • Someone to talk to—an outlet

Organisations cannot rely on traditional organisational structures and hierarchies to meet these needs. While these may aid efficiency they do not necessarily aid “real” human interaction. Rather, organisations should balance commitment to organisational goals with commitment to human needs.

A mentoring culture can assist to balance human needs and organisational goals and aid “real” human interaction. A mentoring culture is where an organisation:

  • Appreciates the strategic and personal value of mentoring, and
  • Supports access to mentoring opportunities for employees to:
    • build deeper working relationships,
    • focus on own development,
    • exchange knowledge and experience,
    • build networks and take risks and explore possibilities
  • There are well-managed formal mentoring programs and informal mentoring is encouraged and flourishes
  • Mentoring pervades development opportunities and agenda

A resilient mentoring culture is a product of a mutually beneficial experience. That is, where the mentor is also changed by the experience.

Commitment to a mentoring culture demonstrates to individuals they’re valued and respected. It also indicates the organisation appreciates diversity and supports personal needs. This results in greater professional happiness, sense of belonging and job satisfaction.

Personal happiness and satisfaction derived from a mentoring culture flows to organisational culture:

  • Enhanced relationships and collaboration
  • Extended inclusion
  • Happier workplace.

What’s more, there are employer brand-enhancing benefits of mentoring initiatives. The Art of Mentoring 2020 research project indicates mentees and mentors are grateful to their organisation for the opportunity.

So, what are the steps to building a flourishing mentoring culture?

  1. Focus mentoring on clearly defined business needs
  2. Ensure that top management provides strong, positive role models (get them involved as mentors, not just as sponsors)
  3. Provide mentoring training and continued development
  4. Recognise and reward managers who demonstrate good mentoring behaviour and commitment, and encourage being mentored across the organisation and at all levels.

Donella Roberts, 2021

©Art of Mentoring




A guide to unleashing the hidden value in your organisation through high impact strategic mentoring programs.

Most human beings and organisations have one thing in common – they both want to do better. But it’s hard for one to achieve without the other. When you can harness both you can achieve great things.

Unfortunately, most organisational structures are hierarchical, which may aid efficiency but not necessarily “real” human interaction.

Solving the human equation is the cornerstone of great culture and the larger and more diverse the workforce, the more challenging it becomes, even before we factor in things like location, technology and pay rates.

Well designed and managed mentoring programs can have a dramatic impact on workplace culture and people engagement. A strategic mentoring program transcends hierarchy, creating relationships and interactions to build individual and hence organisational value.

In this guide we present you with proven practical insights on how to design, build, implement and automate a high influence mentoring program and create your own ripple effect.

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the ripple effect