The University is committed to the personal and professional development of individuals to enable them to achieve their full potential. Mentoring is a dynamic way of facilitating such development
Mentoring is a process through which someone shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to develop their skills or progress in their careers. You may already do this in one form or another - mentoring simply helps to structure the process to ensure you get the most out of it.
Mentoring is more than just giving advice or passing on experience from a particular area or situation. It is about motivating and empowering the other person to identify their own issues and goals. It is also about helping them to find ways of resolving or reaching them - not by doing it for them or expecting them to ‘do it the way I did it’, but by understanding and respecting different ways of working.
Mentors very often have their own mentors, and in turn their mentees might wish to ‘put something back’ and become mentors themselves - it is a chain for ‘passing on’ good practice so that the benefits can be widely spread. Mentoring can be a short-term arrangement until the original reason for the partnership is fulfilled or ceases, or it can last months or years. The key objective of mentoring is to support and accelerate ongoing professional development and enhance personal performance.Mentoring can be used for a variety of reasons, including:
- Support for development – to ensure effective learning for the future
- Support for learning on the job – to enhance job-related knowledge and skills for the present
- Career progression – to assist in identifying and supporting potential
- Support in a new project or new role
- When going through change within the team or organisation
- Overcoming setbacks and obstacles
- Understanding different and conflicting ideas
There are many benefits to mentoring and it is appropriate for all categories of staff at all levels, which is why everyone is encouraged to participate. The benefits of mentoring include;
- Clarity - Helps mentees clarify their aims/objectives /goals
- Empowerment - Equips individuals with the confidence to develop their skills, knowledge and experience and to try out new things
- Informing – Sharing of knowledge, skills and experience
- Sounding board – Having someone non-judgmental to test out your ideas
- Encouragement – Helps motivate you into moving towards your aims/goals in a positive environment.
- Creates valuable space and time for you to ‘stand back’ and review where you are now, where you want to get to, and how best to get there.
- Results – Helps change/achieve your goals more quickly and effectively than working alone
Types of Mentoring
Successful people don't feel they have to ‘go it alone’ - they identify resources in people as well as in print or online, and use them to maximise their potential. It's simply the case that your mentoring needs have evolved in line with increased responsibility. You may have new duties, taken on new roles, or been promoted. It is more about the synergy that two (or more) people can create between them to generate solutions, strategies and action plans to build on success.
Mentoring is important as it provides individuals with role models and may be a means of providing information about career and developmental opportunities. Importantly, the mentor might provide the inspiration to take these opportunities up. Mentoring also widens the support network, provides motivation and can improve confidence. Developmental mentoring is just that - an experienced mentor helps you to develop your strengths and potential, to identify your changing needs, values and aspirations, and what's most important to you. They work with you to plan your professional development and your next career steps. Personal development planning is now encouraged in most universities, and is applies just as much to staff as students.
Mostly mentoring is understood in the sense of a more experienced person mentoring a new or junior colleague. But as you progress, colleagues can ‘peer-mentor’ each other either in particular areas (such as teaching observation or project management) or for general support. However, peer mentoring should still be about progress and development, and be equally supportive of each partner. Peer mentors should hold each other accountable for their action plans and help each other to achieve their goals.