Human Resources

Information for mentors

Roles a mentor can take on and potential benefits of being a mentor

Mentor roles

A mentor can fulfil many roles. You might find that you take on specific roles at different times according to the needs of the person you are mentoring. Here are some mentor roles for you to consider:

  • Challenger – here to question your mentee’s assumptions, probing for the ‘bigger picture’
  • Critical Friend – supportive, but not expecting your mentee to accept what you say
  • Goal-setter – enabling your mentee to focus on and set their own goals
  • Role-model – You will have valuable experience your mentee can learn from
  • Guide – showing how the University and discipline-specific systems and networks function
  • Sounding Board – acting as an independent person to bounce new ideas and suggestions off
  • Listener – an unthreatening open ear, offering reflective questions
  • Catalyst – helping facilitate your mentee’s personal development and change
  • Bridge – potentially opening new doors and avenues for thought

Source: Clutterbuck, D (1998) Learning Alliances, CIPD, Wimbledon

Mentor Skills

Mentors do not need to have any particular qualifications, rather the key skills required are:

  • listening and questioning
  • challenging your mentee to consider their learning and what they’re going to do with it
  • providing insights into ‘the way things are done around here’
  • guidance and advice on the sector and career progression
  • being a positive role model
  • being curious and encouraging your mentee to be curious
  • encouragement and to facilitate networking and building supportive connections
  • challenging negative/limiting beliefs

Mentor case studies

What mentors can bring to the mentoring relationship

  • Mentors bring their own personal and professional experience, knowledge and skills to provide valuable input into the mentee’s personal development objectives/goals.
  • Support to the mentee as they identify the next steps or actions to achieve their goals/ objectives.
  • Responding to questions or offering your own learning experiences to help the mentee understand the potential outcomes which can result from actions or decisions made.
  • Honest and non- biased feedback to the individual mentee on their performance.
  • Reviewing the progress made towards achieving the objectives which were first set at the start of the mentoring relationship.

Why be a mentor?

In addition to helping colleagues, being a mentor can help you to develop your communication and interpersonal skills and allow you the opportunity to reflect on your own practice. Mentors have noted the following benefits:

  • professional benefits of linking to another research team / school / department
  • satisfaction from helping another person grow and develop
  • the opportunity to review own practice
  • exposure to new ideas
  • increased self-awareness
  • development of interpersonal and communication skills
  • reflection on own career path
  • stimulation and motivation
  • enhances CV

Find out more