Information for Mentors

What is a mentor?

Mentors are essentially facilitators who allow their mentees to discover their own direction. Mentors offer ‘soft’ skills such as effective listening and questioning and have a genuine commitment to improving the quality of the mentee's thinking about the issues that are important to them. Using their own experience they may also offer guidance on a particular issue or the development of a skill.  

Who can be a mentor?

Any experienced member of staff can be a mentor, this does not mean you have to have seniority, just more experience than your mentee in a particular skill or area.  You should be happy to pass on your experiences and be interested in developing yourself and others. You don’t need to have a specific qualification or know a huge amount about the role of the mentee.

What are the benefits of being a mentor?

While the focus of the mentoring relationship is primarily on the development needs and opportunities of the mentee there are also benefits for the mentor including:

  • development of your own self-awareness,
  • getting to know up-and-coming talent,
  • learning gained from the mentees,
  • satisfaction of knowing that you can make a difference to someone else,
  • sharing contacts and increased networking opportunities,
  • increasing skills and reputation,
  • an opportunity to share experience and expertise,
  • enhancing your leadership skills.

What are the benefits for the mentee?

  • Being able to discuss and gain greater clarity about career and development issues.
  • Having an opportunity to reflect on their own progress and resolve their own problems.
  • Having practical advice and help on internal politics and understanding the structures.
  • Having an objective interested party outside your line to be a sounding board for ideas.
  • Having a role model.
  • The opportunity to be challenged constructively.
  • Providing encouragement to set more ambitious goals.

What should you expect to do as a mentor?

  • Invest your time to ensure that the relationships has a chance to build trust and therefore achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
  • Challenge and support the mentee to think more deeply, address uncomfortable issues and set higher ambitions for themselves.
  • Listen and learn as success is more likely when the mentor places more emphasis on what they will learn than on their need to be useful to the mentee.
  • Be open and honest and put aside their own ego to share thoughts and feelings they might not expose to a wider audience.
  • Maintain confidentiality to enable the mentee to try out preliminary ideas and directions that he or she may want to explore before sharing in a wider venue.
  • Provide guidance and advice but only where it is truly needed and expands the mentee’s understanding so they can continue to make their own choices.

At the beginning of the relationship mentors should:

  • Agree personal ground rules e.g. be non-judgmental, be a role model.
  • Agree the scope of the relationship, what it is and what it is not e.g. It is positive but challenging, it is not providing magic answers.
  • Ensure everyone agrees to make the relevant time commitments.
  • Agree how you will manage exceptions e.g. Will the mentor and mentee have informal contact between meetings?
  • Agree the medium of interaction, be it face to face meetings or phone calls and scheduled at the first meeting which ideally should be face to face.
  • Decide upon mutually convenient locations for sessions, which should generally last for at least an hour.
Mentor info