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Supporting fair and ethical business in partnership with The Co-operative Bank
Business Support for Co-ops – peer mentor handbook

What is peer mentoring?

Mentoring is just one type of business support

Mentoring is just one type of business support, each of which is used in different circumstances and for different reasons. The main types of enterprise support are shown in the diagram below. What they all have in common is that the enterprise group – or mentee – is at the centre.

Mentoring is just one type of business support
Types of enterprise support

Mentoring is often confused with some of these types of support. Mentoring can draw on these skills and activities but tends not to be the same as an adviser or coaching as per the table below.







Task and performance, building skills and competence

Building capability

Key skills

Imparting own experience and wisdom

Give feedback on performance

Helping mentees discover their own knowledge and experience

Goal orientation

Helps align individual and organisational goals

Helps mentee establish goals

Usually works with mentee’s own goals

Closeness of relationship

Low to moderate


Relatively high, can lead to a strong friendship

Flow of learning

Mainly one-way

Mainly one-way

Usually two-way

Benefits for our Mentors

Mentoring is a two way process and can be as beneficial to the mentor as it is to the mentee. As well as receiving some financial support for the time you put in, here are some more reasons to get involved:

  • Many established co-ops already provide ad hoc support to new groups and can benefit from this formalised approach.
  • Inspires, energises and motivates mentors to develop their potential and unleash the best in themselves.
  • Provides a chance for mentors to step outside of the day-today environment and use their professional skills in an entirely new and rewarding context.
  • Enhances interpersonal, communication and mentoring skills and the transfer of these skills back into the workplace.
  • Delivers a rewarding sense of job satisfaction and energy from helping a mentee develop and grow their co-op enterprise.
  • Mentors can find they expand their personal communication skills, developing their understanding of learning styles and how to share knowledge by asking the right questions, in an appropriate and open manner.
  • Mentors realise they have huge amounts of tactical (practical) experience, and many find it extremely rewarding to support other people wherever they can.
  • Often, established co-ops benefitted from the support of others themselves, and want to ‘give something back’.
  • Peer mentoring can be used as part of continuous professional development (CPD). Mentors develop new skills (for example social media skills) and perspectives from the mentee through “reverse mentoring”.