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Mentoring for Career Development - A Basic Guide

What Is It?
Mentoring at Bath Spa University is a work based partnership which enables a member of staff who has little experience in a job to receive guidance and support from someone who is already experienced and skilled in the tasks of the job.

The Mentee is the learner and the Mentor is the guide.

Mentoring can give support and guidance to assist career development of existing members of staff by providing a role model who can impart knowledge, skills and advice.

The Mentee and Mentor should take on their roles willingly and must be able to build a good working relationship.

The Mentee Seeking Career Development
Mentoring can provide valuable guidance and support for staff wanting to develop particular aspects of their careers. A Mentor who is already working in a relevant field can advise on training, qualifications and can share her/his experiences. Shadowing the Mentor in a variety of work situations can give the Mentee useful insights into aspects of the career that she/he is aspiring to.

The Mentee decides on her/his career goals and finds a Mentor to assist in identifying the path to reach the goals and key steps along the path. The Mentee will seek the help of the Mentor to identify the gaps in skills, knowledge, qualifications or experience essential to taking the key steps. The Mentee will draw up an action plan for discussion with the Mentor that will enable the Mentee to fill in the gaps in skills, knowledge, qualification and experience. The Mentee follows the plan supported and guided by the Mentor.

Mentors and Career Development
Mentoring for career development requires willing participation by the Mentor. A Mentee will approach someone who they feel can give them the guidance and support that she/he needs to assist them in her/his chosen career path. Commitment and time and a willingness to share skills, knowledge and experience are essential requirements of a Mentor.

The Mentor’s role is to respond to the Mentee’s needs in relation to her/his identified career goals. The Mentor gives advice on the path and the key steps that must be taken to reach career goals and shares knowledge and demonstrates skills. This giving and sharing may be achieved through meetings or through work shadowing where the Mentee can see how the Mentor carries out parts of her/his job.

The Mentor makes sure that the Mentee is progressing towards her/his goals. The Mentee may have decided to draw up an action plan in discussion with the Mentor and the Mentor should ensure that the Mentee is following and achieving the key steps in the plan. The Mentor encourages the Mentee but also helps the Mentee to see why she/he is not making progress by gently making her/him aware of why the problems have arisen and how to overcome them.

Summary

Mentoring can be a considerable benefit to existing staff wanting to develop their careers in particular areas.

Both parties in the mentoring relationship must be willing and want to give commitment and time.

Mentees benefit from the partnership by learning from someone with greater knowledge, skills and experience. They receive guidance and support to make the attainment of their goals quicker, easier and more enjoyable.

Mentors benefit because they appraise their own input to work with fresh eyes. It helps them to refresh their knowledge and skills and it gives satisfaction to help someone to become proficient in her/his job or to develop and progress in her/his careers.

 

Many of the ideas in this paper were drawn from Mentoring for Work and Study - A Practical Guide published by Bath Spa University.

For a list of colleagues who have indicated that they may be available as mentors please email hrcontact@bathspa.ac.uk