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A mentoring scheme is intended as a long-term arrangement between two members of staff. Mentors offer mentees their experience and insight, their knowledge and technical expertise and a confidential means to discuss problems and focus on solutions.

While the arrangement is usually seen as of benefit to the mentee, the mentor as well can benefit from developing their communication skills by getting insight from someone else’s point of view and being encouraged to gently challenge and motivate someone. Mentoring can often then be very satisfying, and provide the mentor with insights into their organisation and an opportunity to reflect on their own practice

The organisation as a whole can benefit from mentoring programmes through improved knowledge sharing, networking and the opportunities to share ideas through the organisation.

Aston will be introducing a formal mentoring programme as part of its offering to staff development. By offering mentoring we are also contribute to development and career advancement of groups who are under-represented throughout the University. 

Aston offers a formal mentoring scheme so that all employees the same opportunity to access a mentor. While there may be informal mentoring happening within the University, this can be based on personal networks.

By offering a formal mentoring programme, employees can be matched with colleagues they might not otherwise meet and participate in a structured programme. In addition, Mentors are offered training and career development by participating in the programme.

Anyone can become a mentor, but to get the best out of the experience you would ideally:

  • Be committed to the role – having the time and the willingness to commit to sessions and help someone else develop
  • Be able to attend a mentoring training session and be willing to learn tools to use with your mentees
  • Be empathic and non-judgemental but able to give constructive feedback
  • Be able to challenge honestly and with sincere intentions
  • Be able to listen, and to read non-verbal cues
  • Have expertise or experience that would benefit the mentee
  • Be able to create rapport and put your mentee at ease

Again, anyone can become a mentee but to get the best out of the experience you would ideally:

  • Have a purpose in mind for the mentoring: i.e. to develop your career, your knowledge or yourself
  • Be open to feedback and prepared to act on it
  • Be honest with your mentor
  • Be aware of where your mentor can and can’t help you – for example, mentors are not counsellors and cannot give advice best left to other professionals
  • Be willing to leave your “comfort zone” to be able to develop
  • Be able to reflect on your meetings

Potential mentors and mentees will administer the process through software designed for managing mentoring and coaching programmes.

The mentor is expected to attend a training session and develop a range of tools to use in the mentoring sessions. Mentors are also expected to be open minded in who they are matched with colleagues can be from across the University.

The mentee is expected to take the lead in terms of planning meetings, drawing up the agenda for meetings and completing tasks agreed with their mentor.

As this process will begin with a pilot (see below), we cannot guarantee there will be enough mentors and mentees to match everyone, but will work to try to do so.

It is possible to be both a mentor and a mentee, and also to be a participant in any coaching programme. Again, it is up to the individual to manage their time commitments responsibly. 

In order to ensure you can be released from your duties, you should ask your line manager’s permission to become a mentor or mentee in the first instance. After this the line manager will not be involved in the process, and all conversations between the mentor and mentee will remain confidential.

Mentoring does not conflict with the relationship between the line manager and the employee. A mentor will not be an employee’s line manager, and a mentor will not assign the mentee work aside from any agreed personal development actions.

Aston will be piloting a mentoring scheme in summer 2018 in selected areas of the business. The pilot will include more information on how the scheme works and how to join, training for mentors and resources for both the mentor and the mentee so both can get the best out of the process, and how feedback and support will work in the programme.

Based on the success of the pilot, the mentoring programme will be made available to all staff in Autumn 2018 – look out for communications from Organisational Development this year. 

For any questions or feedback, contact orgdev@aston.ac.uk