Mentoring Relationships Expectations and Outcomes

Mentoring is a form of one-to-one support where a more experienced colleague uses their knowledge, skills and connections to help someone with their current and future challenges. Mentoring is defined as being concerned with ‘growing an individual’, both professionally and personally. A mentor is often described as a “critical friend” or “supportive challenger,” because they have a role in helping people become more self-aware and to take responsibility for solving their own problems. They may be able to help with general professional and career advice, or may have particular expertise that is relevant to the mentee’s situation. Mentors, as well as acting as a sounding board and offering impartial feedback, are experienced professionals who are willing and able to help others and who use their own professional experiences to help steer and support the learner (or “mentee”). The mentoring process should be a confidential, learning partnership between two people aimed at building the capacity of the mentee.

Both parties take equal responsibility for the progression of the mentoring: the key task for a mentor is to support the mentee in identifying and clarifying their development needs while the mentee’s role is to seek to address them. The relationship will normally be outside any current hierarchical relationship (e.g. that between a manager and member of staff, or between a research group leader and research group member).

The mentor and mentee should respect each other’s time and other responsibilities, ensuring that they do not impose beyond what is reasonable. The frequency, length, and venue for meetings are mutually agreed, along with the level and means of contact between meetings. It is suggested the partnership last for an agreed time period, whereupon both parties can review the relationship and development objectives to take a decision whether to continue or to terminate the arrangement in a phased approach. Both mentor and mentee have shared responsibility for winding down the partnership once it has achieved its purpose.

The mentor and mentee should respect each other’s time and other responsibilities, ensuring that they do not impose beyond what is reasonable. The frequency, length, and venue for meetings are mutually agreed, along with the level and means of contact between meetings. It is suggested the partnership last for an agreed time period, whereupon both parties can review the relationship and development objectives to take a decision whether to continue or to terminate the arrangement in a phased approach. Both mentor and mentee have shared responsibility for winding down the partnership once it has achieved its purpose.

A mentor can expect to take on a number of roles within the mentoring relationship involving a range of skills and behaviours. Which role the mentor adopts at any time will depend on the needs of the mentee and the situation, but could include, sounding board, facilitator, adviser, coach, source of organisational knowledge.

Mentors will be expected to:

Key roles & responsibilities of mentor

  • Undertake mentoring training.
  • Be a more experienced member of staff
  • Not be involved in the mentee’s day to day management
  • Have the relevant skills to support the mentoring relationship by undertaking mentoring training as outlined in the guidance
  • Be committed to the University’s equality and diversity principles
  • Provide the mentoring program with details on their professional background and information needed for program delivery and matching purposes
  • Meet with mentee when agreed
  • Establish and build on rapport throughout the relationship
  • Agree and keep to a mentoring contract
  • Manage time commitments
  • Diagnose the needs of the mentee and agree priorities (driven by learner)
  • Improve the mentees breadth of knowledge and skills
  • Share broader perspective of the organisation, culture, strategy
  • Help mentees to articulate their aspirations and then realise their potential
  • Prompt mentees to draw up their own personal development plans
  • Provide contacts/networks for them to follow up
  • Recognise and celebrate achievements
  • Confront and reflect on positive and less positive behaviours/actions
  • Encourage the mentee to think beyond the obvious
  • Prompt them to keep their Line Manager involved as much as possible
  • Encourage and motivate the mentee
  • Initiate reviews of progress at regular intervals
  • Identify when the relationship may need to close
  • Manage feelings/emotions when closing formal relationship
  • Be open and honest at all times
  • Not discuss with line Manager

Mentors might achieve objectives through a range of complementary processes and approaches, such as:

  • Using reflective questioning to both consider barriers and ascertain solutions;
  • Exploring with the mentee a range of ideas and methods of working;
  • Challenging assumptions;
  • Acting as a sounding board;
  • Referring the mentee to other sources of information;
  • Dealing sensitively with beliefs, capabilities, aspirations and learning styles;
  • Creating an open and relaxed relationship to build confidence and trust that will enhance the learning process;
  • Providing guidance;
  • Celebrating success.

Effective mentoring involves both supporting and challenging the mentee. The mentor does not act on behalf of the mentee. It is the mentee’s responsibility to take action and, where relevant, the mentor’s to assist the mentee in reaching decisions about action and/or reflect upon the consequences of such action. Any matters discussed between the mentor and mentee are confidential.

Mentors are not there to:

  • Make decisions for the individual seeking advice or ‘fix’ their situation;
  • Take action for the mentee against another party;
  • Mediate or negotiate for their mentee (staff can access the Mediation Service)
  • Provide counselling (staff can access counselling via the Occupational Health Service and also via Care First).

Key roles & responsibilities of mentee

  • Meet with mentor when agreed to
  • Define and agree expectations for the relationship
  • Agree how best to manage the mentoring contract (mentee in control)
  • Commit to completing agreed development tasks i.e. creating a PDP
  • Access other sources of advice and information as appropriate
  • Share information about their strengths, development needs, ambitions etc openly with their mentor
  • Take responsibility for drawing up their own personal development plans
  • Take responsibility for appropriate contact with line managers about development issues
  • Initiate their own development and make the most of learning opportunities
  • Be open and honest
  • Ensure confidentiality, as agreed with mentor
  • Keep line manager informed, as appropriate

Effective mentoring involves both supporting and challenging the mentee. The mentor does not act on behalf of the mentee. It is the mentee’s responsibility to take action and, where relevant, the mentor’s to assist the mentee in reaching decisions about action and/or reflect upon the consequences of such action. Any matters discussed between the mentor and mentee are confidential.

Mentors are not there to:

  • Make decisions for the individual seeking advice or ‘fix’ their situation;
  • Take action for the mentee against another party;
  • Mediate or negotiate for their mentee;
  • Provide counselling (staff can access counselling via the Occupational Health Service and also via Care First).

It is important to remember that whilst One Step Beyond mentors are available to provide general advice and guidance, the University has developed specific services to support staff and/or students who are experiencing particular issues, for example bullying, harassment and/or discrimination. We have highlighted some useful resources mentees can access in our guidance on what further support is available.

Key roles & responsibilities of Scheme Co-ordinator/ Admin

  • To ensure the smooth running of the scheme
  • To ensure senior/top management commitment
  • Formal link between all interested parties
  • Managing the publicity for the scheme
  • Managing the recruitment of mentors and proteges/mentees
  • Gaining agreement from senior managers for their support/commitment
  • Gaining agreement from Line Managers for their support/involvement – brief mgrs
  • Arranging initial briefings and follow up support for both mentors and mentees
  • Ensure the criteria for mentor selection is very open and available to all
  • Ensure mentors and mentees are clear about their roles
  • Organise induction for everyone involved and specific training for mentors
  • Maintain the database of all involved
  • Administering the matching process and any reassignments that might be needed
  • Ensuring the programme is regularly monitored and reviewed, to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of the programme
  • Managing the associated budgets and quality control processes
  • Being the public face of the programme to audiences inside and outside the organisation
  • To provide a ‘ready ear’ to all participants to ensure productive relationships
  • Review best practice and use benchmarked good practice for redesigning scheme
  • To demonstrate return on investment to key stakeholders/senior managers

It is estimated that it would take 1 full day per week, to co-ordinate and maintain 20 mentoring pairs.

Key roles & responsibilities of Line Manager

  • Allow mentees to attend mentoring sessions
  • Provide reasonable support for the development of the mentee
  • Not talk to the mentor about the mentee
  • Be clear about the distinctions between managing and mentoring