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Being a mentor. This is how it works!

Would you like to make an important contribution to the development and learning process of your colleagues? Then become a mentor. This page contains all kinds of pointers that are important in your role as mentor during the entire process.

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Being a mentor.

As a mentor, you play an important role in the learning process of your colleague. The mentor role is the result of Schouten & Nelissen’s vision of learning. In learning, we distinguish between formal and informal learning.

Informal learning

According to research 80%

Informal learning is about learning by doing in practice. This can be done by exchanging knowledge and experience with colleagues, requesting feedback or by picking up a challenging new task, for example. In this context, informal learning means that the employee does not have the conscious intention to learn and there is no defined learning goal.

Formal learning

According to research 20%

For example in the form of training.

Schouten & Nelissen is of the view that informal and formal learning can strengthen each other. This means that you increase the return of informal learning and strengthen organisations. We achieve this by bringing formal and informal learning together into integrated learning.

More than with classic learning, integrated learning is attuned to the individual and the questions that arise for him/her during their work. However, the organisational objectives always serve as a starting point. The strength of integrated learning is primarily the continuity of the learning process in the own working environment.

We do this by:

  • Putting the individual learning question central.
  • Making the link between learning and their own practice in every assignment.
  • Making the learning process more continuous and less time and location-based.
  • Adding the mentor in the workplace. The mentor plays an important role in the reflection and translation of learning insights into their own workplace.


Depending on the duration of the process, we ask that a mentor provides mentoring for at least 1 hour every 2 weeks.

The importance of your role.

If you attend training, you want to experience the result and see it reflected in your workplace. Research into the translation of learning into the workplace shows the great effect of support in the working environment by managers and colleagues (source: Learning Transfer System Inventory). Your role is therefore important in actually improving the performance of your colleague. You do this by discussing the learning objectives with your colleague, giving feedback, encouraging him/her to practice and by offering assistance when things are not going so well.

Your colleague is in the lead

The most important person in the learning process is the person doing the learning. This means that your colleague will be in the lead during the learning process. Of course, Schouten & Nelissen will give your colleague guidance for taking on this role. This means therefore that your colleague will take the initiative to schedule discussions with you. However, there may always be reasons why your colleague does not (as yet) take the initiative. Don’t wait for it to happen and ask after it.

Learning objectives and opportunities

The participant formulates personal objectives. Help him/her to make those as specific as possible: what will this colleague do differently/better after this training?

The improvement of the performance in the workplace requires the opportunity to use the newly acquired knowledge and skills. This can be done in a meeting, by giving a presentation, by managing a project or by having a discussion with a colleague, for example. Fact is that there are more occasions that allow us to practice than we are aware of.

The power of repetition

Depending on the duration of the mentoring process, we ask that the mentor provides at least one-hour mentoring time every two weeks.

It takes approximately 40 days for new knowledge and skills to really become ingrained. It is therefore important to repeat the newly acquired knowledge and skills during this period. A simple question such as: ‘What have your learned during the meeting and how are you going to apply this?’ is already helpful in strengthening the knowledge and skills.

Continuous learning

After the training, you will still have a role in the development of your colleague. Together you will look at the opportunities to continue to apply the acquired skills in the workplace. An enthusiastic and inspiring attitude can already be enough.

The return

During the learning process, you will have made agreements with your colleague on the follow‑up steps. Apart from these agreements, you can of course make a few suggestions to increase the return on training:

  • Reminders

Now and then ask your colleague how the acquired skills are going. This helps to embed that what has been learned. This can be done in person, by having a chat in the corridor for example but can of course also take place by e-mail. Make it easy for yourself and put reminders in your diary up to six months after the training.

  • Exemplary behaviour

Your colleague will continue to learn from you even after the training. So continue to be aware of your exemplary role towards your colleague.

  • Opportunities

Sometimes an opportunity arises that is perfect for your colleague so they can continue to develop him/herself. Be alert to this and give him/her some extra encouragement to seize the opportunity with both hands.

  • Practical exercises

After every meeting, your colleague schedules an appointment with you. Together you will look back at the past week during which your colleague has practiced those skills. What is going well and what can be improved?

Good luck with the mentorship!