Tips & Guidance


Tracking mentee progress – keeping an eye or keeping tabs?

The NCME gathered to discuss ‘Tools for Tracking Mentee Progress,’ which included both the quantitative and the qualitative aspects of mentee progress. Here we summarise the discussion, themes and recommendations for practice that emerged when discussing the best tools for tracking, who should be capturing the metrics and who should summarise the key points and actions. A key insight that emerged is the role of programme managers, which is integral to the mentor-mentee relationship and tracking progress.


1) What is the best tool for tracking mentee progress?


A number of tools are used to track mentee progress such as MS Excel, MS Forms, Google Sheets, Google Forms, Airtable and bespoke platforms, each with their pros and cons such as ability to share with other users, store in the Cloud and ease of use, especially for capturing metrics. All tools being mostly free and easy to download or access.

None was really hailed as ‘the one,’ so it really depends on programme manager and mentor preferences. Some mentors expressed that they prefer to have a brief call with programme managers where they can recap the discussion and allow the programme manager in turn to capture a summary of the key points, actions and metrics from the meeting. As Philippa Seal, Chair of the Mentors Panel at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation described, ‘Even when we had access to a platform that recorded all the data we wanted and presented it in a really practical way, the real issue was that volunteer mentors don’t want to spend their time entering data. If I really want to know what is going on, I have to talk to mentors directly.’

Recommendation: Programme managers should consult mentors on the method that works best for them to track mentee progress to ensure their buy-in and cooperation. Start with an MVP (even if it is just a shared Excel sheet) to understand engagement, before investing further resources on a system that may not be fit for purpose and is not used.


2) Who should be capturing the startup metrics?


There was an interesting discussion around who should be tracking mentee progress – the programme managers or the mentors? In line with their role, mentors are naturally more clued in on the entrepreneurs’ progress and achievements. On a paid basis, mentors are also more naturally incentivised to input metrics, while it often proves difficult to incentivise mentors operating on a pro bono basis. The consensus was that while mentors enjoyed the mentoring part of their role, filling out forms or sheets – not so much(!)

Luis Martinez, Director of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Trinity University, shared that they always have a ‘third eye’ in the room who is the programme manager themselves and can ‘audit the interpersonal relationship,’ while also capturing the metrics by listening in. Carmen Aramanda, Programs Manager at Trinity University and also encompassing the role of the ‘third eye’ described the value in being able to see mentors across multiple mentoring relationships, so it was possible to identify when particular relationships were or were not working (and if the latter whether it was just a lack of chemistry or that a mentor was perhaps not right for the service). Carmen also explained that her role involved asking the mentors to join a short debriefing call which was useful to directly capture metrics.

Recommendation: When mentors operate on a pro bono basis, programme managers should play a more hands-on role in capturing startup metrics.


3) Who should summarise the key points and actions?


Most mentoring relationships are left to the mentors and mentees, with reporting back to a programme manager in some form. In addition to capturing metrics, it is often considered good practice to capture the key points and actions from the meeting. This is useful to both parties to refresh on the meeting, as well as for developing accountability. The key question here was who should be capturing a summary of the key points actions – the mentor or mentee?

The team at Trinity University shared that they place the onus on the mentees and require them to take notes and write down action items using a template that needs to be submitted before a follow up meeting can be booked. Ben Cole shared that the team at Loughborough University London develop jointly agreed documents between the mentors and mentees to create a record and increase accountability for both parties, so this is not just one way. The mentee completes a canvas that is shared with the mentor in a session so they both have a record, and the conversation remains focused. Both methods seem to work well for each university, with the key point being that it is made clear between the mentor and mentee from an early stage.

Recommendation: The responsibility for summarising key points and actions from a meeting can be individual or shared – this should be defined between the mentors and mentees from an early stage in their relationship.




There is not yet a ‘one size fits all’ solution for tracking mentee progress. However, a key insight from the NCME Meeting is that programme managers play a highly active role in the relationship and their role is an integral (rather than peripheral) part of the mentor-mentee relationship. Programmes will adapt through learning and should expect to iterate as they learn what works for their ecosystem, their mentors and mentees.


Author: Professor Harveen Chugh. An earlier version of this article was published on LinkedIn in October 2021.