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If you have queries around mentoring, contact the Organisational Development team.

A mentoring scheme is intended as a long-term and informal arrangement between two members of staff. While the arrangement is usually seen as of benefit to the mentee, the mentor as well can benefit from developing their skills and having insight into the organisation from someone else’s point of view. 

Mentoring can be as simple as setting a regular meeting between the two members of staff, and with preparation both can find it a useful and informative experience.

Mentoring and coaching are sometimes used interchangeably. In general, coaching is a short-term arrangement to address a specific, identified need, while mentoring can be a longer-term arrangement, and address many different areas. Mentoring is often used as a means to introduce a new employee to the workplace and provide information about the culture, ways of working and structure of an organisation. 

Mentoring may create an image of an experienced worker mentoring someone younger or new to the workplace but it by no means needs to operate that way. A relatively new idea is that of Reverse Mentoring, where someone relatively new to the workplace gives an experienced worker their own perspective and insight, and quite often the seniority is also reversed. Reverse mentoring can provide senior members of staff with a fresh perspective or insight into new customer behaviours or technologies. 

Coaching is also a different style of intervention: coaches often do not provide their own advice but help you analyse a problem or decide on the best course of action yourself. Mentoring may involve this style of facilitation, but also are as likely to provide their own advice from their experience.

Anyone can request a mentor by approaching their manager, who will consider who would match well with the employee. Mentors should not be in a position where there is already a manager/employee relationship, and can be from a different department.
Again, anyone can become a mentor. We ask that before agreeing to mentor someone you ensure that you will be able to schedule the time to meet regularly and keep this commitment, establish the confidentiality of the relationship, act with the best interests of your mentee at heart and to keep within the professional remit of the relationship – it is important to know when to access further support yourself when needed. 
Each school or service function will manage their own mentoring scheme internally, with assistance from Organisational Development if necessary. As such, the line manager of the mentee is the place to start a discussion around requesting a mentor.
The line manager will assist in selecting an appropriate mentor, but will have no role in the process after. It is expected that the mentoring arrangement will be in confidence between the mentee and the mentor only. 

The mentee and the mentor will meet first to establish if they believe there is the potential for a mentoring arrangement. If either party does not think this is the case then the arrangement will go no further, in a ‘no blame’ agreement. 

If both are willing to begin a mentoring arrangement then it is suggested a trial period of three meetings is agreed and then reviewed. 

The mentoring will be an informal arrangement and so can continue as long as both parties wish. Either can choose to end the arrangement if they feel it is no longer productive, with a ‘no blame’ arrangement. If circumstances change for either employee and the mentoring arrangement now provides a potential conflict of interest, it is expected that the mentor and mentee will work to find a solution, or end the arrangement.

As this is an informal arrangement, then any problems should be addressed first informally between the mentor and the mentee. Face to face would be the best way to address any problems, but if you do not feel this is possible then consider agreeing to talk on the phone or by email. 

If either party feels that the arrangement cannot continue, then it can be ended by either party with ‘no blame’.

To request a mentor, or to offer to mentor someone else then speak to your line manager in the first instance. 

Getting the best out of mentoring

Advice and Guidance for the Mentee

The role of the mentor is to be a source of information and advice. Your mentor will have their areas of expertise, as well as a deeper understanding of the culture of the University: “the way things are done around here”, which can help you to understand how your role fits into the wider operational picture as well as the history and strategic goals of the organisation. 

As a mentee, you can get the best out of the relationship by getting to know your mentor and agreeing how you will work together. You may wish to agree a date to review the mentoring arrangement and decide if you both wish to continue.

You will get the best out of the experience by sincerely taking on the support and guidance offered, and talking openly and honestly. An effective mentoring arrangement will be one that is also thought provoking and challenging while also being supportive and encouraging. 

Before beginning the arrangement is it worth considering what you want to get out of being a mentee.
This could be:

  • Learning about the culture and structure of the University
  • Developing knowledge of your or the mentor’s area of expertise
  • Discuss areas of personal development and effectiveness with an impartial advisor
  • Discussing how you can develop your own career at the University


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Advice and Guidance for the Mentor

A successful mentoring arrangement will follow these principles:

  • A mentor has an influential role in helping another person to develop, realise their potential and meet their aspirations. 
  • The mentor will create a sincere and honest relationship, and ensure that they are approachable. If there is a large differential in the seniority of the parties, then the mentor will need to ensure they are careful not to be seen as intimidating. 
  • The mentor will establish trust and confidentiality throughout and following the mentoring arrangement.
  • The mentor will be credible though the knowledge they have of the University and in their role. 
  • The mentor will be honest and constructive, and will not take sides or place blame.
  • Similarly, the mentor will have the confidence and awareness to debate and challenge points of view, and provoke reflection in the mentee.
  • The mentor can provide advice and guidance, but will ensure that the mentee is responsible for any decisions they make following these.
  • The mentor will have a good understanding of the University policies and opportunities for career development, and will be prepared to learn about these.

 At the first meeting, you should introduce yourself, describe your experience of being a mentee/mentor and set the expectations of how the arrangement will work. It is for both of you to agree how often you will meet, where and how you will contact each other between meetings, as well as the level of support you can commit to in meetings and being available at other times. 

You may wish to agree a trial period as well, where either party can end the arrangement if there is a feeling that it will not be productive. 

The guidance above should help both parties to understand the scope of the mentoring arrangement, and at any time during the relationship you feel there are issues that are out of your remit to address, then it may be necessary to refer the mentee to another source of advice. Depending on the nature of the issue, a suitable referral may be to:

  • The mentee’s manager
  • Their school or department’s HR Business Partner
  • The Employee Wellbeing support line: 0800 882 4102 
  • The Employee Wellbeing team online at www.pamassist.co.uk with the username: Aston and password: Aston1