Mentoring at Queen's 

Queen’s staff have access to a range of existing mentoring schemes, including those organised centrally, e.g. gender initative schemes and postdoc group mentoring and also within university schools.  These schemes may differ in the groups of staff who participate but they will have similar mentoring goals, focusing on:

  • Providing guidance and support for staff
  • Promoting a productive working environment for staff
  • Providing an opportunity for personal and career development

Example mentoring schemes:

(QGI) Schemes:

QGI – Mentoring for Leadership (academic/research)

QGI - Leadership Mentoring Scheme: Professional support

International Staff Buddy Scheme

Mentoring is also available via school-based schemes.  Please check with your manager or school colleagues for further information.


What is Mentoring

Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool which helps staff gain a better understanding of their working environment and how to progress in their careers.  It should be driven primarily by the mentee, with mentoring supporting the mentee to take responsibility for their own development. The mentor acts as a guide, supporter, sounding board and, sometimes, as a role model.

One-to-one mentoring is based on a positive supportive and confidential relationship, which helps to facilitate a wide range of learning and development, focused on the mentee but also enabling the mentor to develop their communication and people skills.  Mentoring relationship should typically be outside the direct line management relationship

Mentoring schemes will match a person with relevant experience (the mentor) to the staff member who can benefit from that experience (the mentee).  Mentoring should be a voluntary scheme, which is well described by Hale (2000):

“an experienced individual, outside the reporting relationship, holds regular meetings and discussions and takes a personal interest in guiding and supporting the development of a less experienced person in progressing within and beyond their immediate role”.

Mentoring involves staff building relationships that will provide guidance, support, advise to build knowledge, capability and self-reliance, with a focus on reviewing and developing career plans.

"Mentoring involves listening with empathy, sharing experience (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, and encouraging." David Clutterbuck (2014)

There are two main types of mentoring:

  • Developmental mentoring – this is where the mentor is helping the mentee develop new skills and abilities. The mentor is a guide and a resource for the mentee's growth.
  • Sponsorship mentoring – this is when the mentor is more of a career influencer than a guide. In this situation, the mentor takes a close interest in the progress of the mentee. The mentor "opens doors", influencing others to help the mentee advancement.

Mentoring schemes can support:

  • specifically identified groups
  • development and work-based learning programmes
  • individuals or organisations through change or transition
  • improved effectiveness of organisations and individuals.
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How will you Benefit from Mentoring

Benefits for the mentor, the mentee, the line manager and the University.

How will you Benefit from Mentoring?

Benefits for the 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:

  • Mentoring contributes to your personal, professional and career development
  • Mentoring is a two way learning relationship
  • Practice and further enhance your leadership and management skills
  • Skills workshops will enhance your communication and facilitation skills
  • Enhancing your CV by providing evidence of your abilities in supporting and managing people
  • A sense of personal satisfaction in helping to develop the potential of others
  • Different perspective of the University’s culture and landscape through listening to the views of other staff
  • An opportunity to share experience and expertise.


Benefits for the mentee

There are many potential benefits for the mentee to gain from the mentoring relationship including:

  • The opportunity to learn from a role model
  • A broader perspective
  • Increased understanding of the way the University operates
  • Help in clarifying and setting development goals
  • Improve performance
  • Increased self-awareness and confidence as a result of honest and constructive feedback
  • An insight into senior roles
  • Support for proactive career development, planning and progression
  • Reviewing and planning for work-life balance
  • Access to people outside the normal sphere of influence
  • A sounding board for voicing concerns and anxieties in confidence
  • A safe environment to test out ideas and suggestions
  • opportunity to be inspired and encouraged, to tackle challenges and change, and to realise your potential with individualised personal support from an experienced role model.

Benefits for line manager

  • the mentee’s performance improves
  • potentially a better relationship with the mentee
  • mentee’s relationship with the team improves
  • shared responsibility for developing the mentee
  • another role model for the mentee

Benefits for the University

  • enhanced capabilities, performance and progression of mentees and mentors
  • enhanced professional and personal networks supporting interdisciplinary
  • employee retention and improved recruitment
  • improved morale, motivation and relationships
  • helps build a learning culture
  • improved implementation of change
  • improved communication
  • releases potential and improves productivity
  • sharing of tacit knowledge
  • creates talent pool for succession planning.


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Being a Mentor

Experienced staff who take on the role of mentor, guide, advise and help facilitate the development of the mentee.  In addition, they will need to support the mentee in trying out new ideas and challenge their assumptions from time to time.  Therefore the mentor can take on many roles.  A good mentor will be flexible enough to respond to the needs of the mentee. 

Typical roles are:

Sounding Board – testing ideas and suggestions


Guide – showing how the University and associated systems work


Critical Friend – supporting, giving constructive feedback






Challenger – challenging assumptions, encouraging different ways of thinking


Adviser – to giving advice, however the mentee decides best to use that advice


Facilitator – supporting to help make things happen, highlighting opportunities, access to key people






Motivator – encouraging and motivating to achieve goals


Expert – a source of technical/professional knowledge


Goal setter – helping set and focus on goals



Ten ‘tips’ for being a successful mentor

  1. Take on the role of mentor only if you want to do it, you believe in its value and are willing and able to commit sufficient time to it.
  2. Discuss a mentoring agreement at the outset of the relationship to avoid potential misunderstanding later on.
  3. Invest time early on in the relationship to establish rapport and get to know the mentee.
  4. Recognise your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to the mentee’s development needs and be prepared to guide them to other sources of help if appropriate.  You are not expected to be an expert on every subject.
  5. Support the mentee in producing realistic development plans and goals.  Be honest; don’t support unrealistic expectations.  If the mentee’s plans and/or career aspirations are impractical or unreasonable then challenge them.
  6. Keep the relationship with your mentee on a professional level.  Be aware of and sensitive to potential misinterpretation in language and behaviour particularly where there are differences in gender.
  7. Wherever possible encourage the mentee to work out their own solutions to problems they face.
  8. Be aware that you are a role model.  How the mentee perceives the way in which you manage yourself and others will impact on your relationship with them.
  9. Build the confidence and commitment of the mentee and help them develop by providing honest feedback in a constructive and positive way.
  10. When the time comes to end the formal mentoring relationship, end on a positive and supportive note by reviewing and sharing the value and benefits that you have both gained from the experience.



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Being a Mentee

The first question for mentees  is whether mentoring is for them.   It takes time and effort from both parties.  Some factors to consider before entering into a mentoring relationship are:


Everyone will have different expectations around what mentoring will give them.  It is worthwhile to be clear on yours.  A few questions to help you do that are:

What do you need from a mentor?


What would be a good outcome from mentoring?




Why mentoring?


What other options have you considered or explored?


Responsibilities of the Mentee

A key feature of most mentoring  schemes is the individual taking overall responsibility and driving forward the mentoring process; therefore, mentees  need to consider taking the lead on the following aspects to ensure that the process is successful:

Arrange meetings – the practical aspects of arranging time, date and venue for  meetings

Keep-on-track – taking the time to plan each meeting; make contact with mentor if it’s been a while since the  last meeting; get things back on track, if things have slipped

Be honest – with yourself, about how your progress is going.  Also, be honest with your mentor, about how the relationship is going – does the focus need to change? Has the ‘real work’ been completed, however the relationship continues? Is there enough challenges versus support for instance, advice giving versus questioning?

Listen to feedback – listen to what your mentor says.  Ask questions, although you don’t have to agree with the answers

Follow on – on agreed actions and take responsibility for next steps.  Being in a mentoring relationship is about development, so to make progress ensure your actions are completed.


Mentoring agreement

It is recommended that the mentoring relationship is  based on shared expectation about what each can expect of the other.  The best way to ensure that the relationship runs smoothly is to discuss and agree some ground rules and expectations, which can help to keep the process focused.   Whilst emphasising that the important aspect to mentoring is the people and the relationship and not the process,  It may be helpful to complete a Mentoring Agreement ( See appendix 1)   It is entirely up to the mentor and mentee if they wish to do so.


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Mentoring Relationship

Getting started, guidelines, conversations and drawing a conclusion...


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Stages of Mentoring

Stages 1, 2 and 3



What happens?


What next?

Stage one: Before the meeting

What does the mentee want to achieve?

What can I offer as a mentor? 

What significant issues might arise?

Stage one mentoring checklist (tba)

Evaluate the current situation in relation to:

  • Networks
  • Community
  • Work
  • Geographical

Think about what the first meeting will cover, a code of practice and making agreements formal:

Action plans are used to set and evaluate mentee journey

Stage two: During the meeting

The mentor builds relationships, assisting and empower the mentee

Give positive support through using challenging questions and encouragement.

Be non-judgemental, listen, give feedback, help them look at options, focus on the mentee’s needs

GROW Model (tba)

Regular progress reviews


Leads to the achievement of goals

Stage three: Ending the partnership

Either by mutual agreement or by either partner feeling the partnership has fulfilled its purpose.

Reflect on the past and how the mentoring partnership has contributed to the achievement of goals.

Mentee can continue to progress. Mentor may want to make themselves available to a new mentee.



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Managing the Relationship

The first session is about setting a positive beginning to the relationship, getting to know each other, establishing some ground rules and importantly acknowledging that the relationship is two-way.  In preparing for the first meeting and organising subsequent meeting you should consider the points below.

Managing the Relationship - Agreement 

  • Agree expectations

  • What expectations do you both have of the relationship?

  • What are the objectives for the relationship?

  • What needs to happen to achieve these objectives?

  • What might prevent the objectives from being achieved?

  • What does success ‘look’ or ‘feel’ like?


Managing the Relationship - Logistics

  • Agree duration of relationship – e.g. 8 – 12 months
  • Agree Meetings:

  • Frequency – suggested 1 meeting every 6 – 8 weeks

  • Duration – 1 – 2 hrs

  • Content

  • Location – neutral venue

  • Communication between meetings – phone/email? 


Managing the Relationship – Ethical Guidelines

  • Show empathy, sensitivity, compassion and respect

  • Be open and honest

  • Have a willingness to question own understanding, assumptions, beliefs, and values

  • Respect confidentiality

  • Believe in the potential of individuals to learn and develop

  • Responsibility to change lies with the mentee

  • Recognise the boundaries of mentoring and to be aware of referral options should it be necessary( e.g. Inspire, Occupational Health)

Based on Key Values and Principles - National Occupational Standards for Coaching & Mentoring in a Work Environment


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Structuring the Conversations

It is important that both the mentor and mentee prepare for meetings.  For the mentor this will be reviewing actions agreed at previous meetings and considering the types of questions and discussions that will be useful to assist the mentee in moving forward.  For the mentee, preparation includes ensuring they have noted any actions taken since the previous mentoring conversations.  The mentee shoud take the lead/responsibility for the organisation of meetings.


Initial Meeting

  • As well as logistics etc covered earlier, consider:

  • Career goals/aspirations

  • Current skills/knowledge/experience/challenges (e.g. SWOT)

  • Successes to date

  • Plan for next meeting.


Subsequent meetings

  • Review of previous meeting/ actions to discuss (what have I done since the last meeting, what have I Iearnt, what went well, what could have gone better?)

  • Objectives for this session.


A useful framework for each session – GROW

G – Goal –Identify purpose of session, what mentee would like to achieve

R – Reality – What is the current situation?

O – Options – Discuss options – provide support/ideas/guidance. Give feedback.

W – Will/Way forward – What might you do next? Agree actions.

Further resources on GROW model

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How to start a Mentoring Programme

Below is a suggested process for getting started.


Matching mentor-mentee followed by “Chemistry” meeting

Skills workshop

Mentoring begins




Registration form




6 month evaluation point




Information workshop




12 month evaluation & ending


Steps in the process  

 1. Provide an information workshops on the Mentoring Scheme.

Interested staff can come along to get a general idea of what is involved, and receive  information which may help them decided if mentoring is a development option that they are interested in and which is suitable for them.

2. Separate registration forms are completed by those interested in becoming a mentor and those interested in being mentored.

3. Names are held on a register and when possible, mentees are matched to a mentor according to the information provided on the registration forms.  It is a good idea for Mentor and Mentee to have an initial “Chemistry” meeting to see if they want to proceed.

4 It is a good idea for mentors to start developing their skills.  STDU provide a workshop “Being an Effective Mentor”

5. The relationship then continues and is managed by both parties.

6. After 6 months check in to see how things are going.

7. At the 12 month point ask for some final feedback. 

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Mentoring Skills: the art of questions


Mindtools: Active listening

TED talk: 5 ways to listen better



Mentoring Skills: Giving Feedback


Mentoring Skills:The mentoring meeting

Recommended books

Clutterbuck, D. (2014) Everyone Needs a Mentor, London, CIPD

Clutterbuck, D. and Megginson, D. (2009) Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring, Oxford, Butterworth Heinneman

Crawford, C.J. (2004) Manager’s Guide to Mentoring, McGraw-Hill Professional

Hay, J. (1995) Transformational Mentoring: Creating Developmental Alliances for Changing Organizational Cultures, London, McGraw Hill

Lewis, G. (1996) The Mentoring Manager, Institute of Management Foundation, Pitman Publishing

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