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The latest Close Brothers Business Barometer survey of small and medium sized businesses in the UK and Ireland has found that 67% of SMEs have a mentoring scheme for staff.

These kind of programmes have proved successful, with nine in ten of those who have been mentored saying it has helped their career. Over two fifths of people say a scheme aided the development of leadership and management skills, and other top benefits included enabling mentees to focus on their career goals and increasing confidence.

Those who have been mentors also benefit from helping less experienced colleagues and businesses, profiting in a similar way to those they worked with. Seven in ten mentors say that advising someone helped them to develop leadership and management abilities, and half say that is improved their communication skills. Half of respondents also say it made them more confident.

Nine out of ten senior decision makers in Northern Ireland believe that being a mentor has developed their leadership and management skills, compared to just six in 10 for the Republic of Ireland. Further differences across the Irish regions came to light as half of SMEs in the Republic of Ireland say that mentoring has helped them focus their career goals, but only 18% of Northern Ireland agreed with this statement.

Overall, 79% of all senior decision makers in Ireland agree that mentoring has an important role to play in development and two-thirds of SMEs have a mentoring scheme for their staff. The prevalence of these types of programmes grows with company size.

David Thomson, CEO of Close Brothers Invoice and Speciality Finance, said:

“It is positive to see that SMEs are encouraging employees to support one another through mentoring schemes. Regardless of gender, the senior members of any business have a wealth of information and expertise to share.

“While we tend to focus on what those being mentored gain from these programmes, senior figures can benefit too. From offering commercial insight and financial acumen to being side-line supporter, mentors can help foster success of others and learn about their own skills in the process.

“These kinds of relationships need not be formal, but they can be fruitful for everyone involved.”

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