CLES One Step Beyond Mentoring Scheme: Research and Academic Staff

1. What is mentoring and why is it important?

2. Brief outline of the One Step Beyond Mentoring Scheme: Research and Academic Staff

3. Your Commitment

4. Measuring Impact

1. What is mentoring and why is it important?

Mentoring is defined as being concerned with ‘growing an individual’, both professionally and personally.  Mentoring helps people to explore their ideas, problems and opportunities; it can be particularly useful in situations where people feel there is a block to progress, a problem that keeps recurring or an opportunity they cannot work out how to exploit. The Mentoring process should be a confidential, learning partnership between two people aimed at building the capacity of the mentee. Mentors, as well as acting as a sounding board and offering impartial feedback, are experienced professionals who are willing and able to help others and who use their own professional experiences to help steer and support the learner (or “mentee”).  Mentoring is of particular value for staff who are developing in new roles or who wish to develop themselves beyond their current role.  Mentoring can also be beneficial for those in need of some expert insight and help during times of change or challenge.

The College of Life and Environmental Sciences has identified mentoring as a key tool for providing a supportive environment for staff through its staff engagement and Athena SWAN focus groups and surveys. In particular it is recommended to improve engagement with women and underrepresented groups, which is a priority for the College to meet its inclusivity and Athena SWAN agendas. 

2. Brief Outline of the One Step Beyond Mentoring Scheme: Research and Academic Staff

The ‘One Step Beyond’ Staff Mentoring Scheme is a cross-College scheme. It is a voluntary, but formal, arrangement whereby 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 member of staff. The mentor and mentee roles can be included as an objective and recognised in staff PDRs. Participation in the mentoring scheme will also be recognised in the PDP process under ‘citizenship’. Staff are eligible to take on both mentor and mentee roles. Any matters discussed between the mentor and mentee are confidential.

Phase 1 of the CLES One Step Beyond Mentoring Scheme is designed for academic and research staff.  It is especially beneficial for those in their early career. Mentoring arrangements for Technical and Professional Services staff are currently being reviewed (see point 1.5).

Mentors can take on a maximum of four mentees and will ideally be no more than 2 grades above the mentees. Training will be provided for all mentors prior to their first meeting, together with this information pack containing guidance on equality & diversity issues and useful resources to refer mentees to. 

Mentees will be sent options from a suitable pool of mentors from which to select. Alternatively, at individual mentee’s request the CLES Mentoring Coordinator can assist in matching mentors and mentees based on their preferences and development needs, with support from the Heads of Discipline and Academic Leads.

3. Your Commitment

The mentor and mentee respect each other’s time and other responsibilities, ensuring that they do not impose beyond what is reasonable. The frequency and length of, and venue for, meetings are mutually agreed, along with the level and means of contact between meetings. It is suggested the partnership last for an agreed time period, whereupon both parties can review the relationship and development objectives to take a decision whether to continue or to terminate the arrangement in a phased approach. Both mentor and mentee have shared responsibility for winding down the partnership once it has achieved its purpose. To assist in creating a mutually agreed arrangement, we suggest the mentors and mentees both fill in a mentoring proforma before commencing each relationship:

4. Measuring Impact

To help us measure the Impact of the scheme and make continual improvements to its materials and format, we ask that before and after each mentoring relationship commences, mentees try to fill in a short pre and post-mentoring impact questionnaire: