Mentoring at the University of Glasgow

     A mentor is 'off line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking' (Megginson and Clutterbuck, 1995)


Mentoring in the workplace can help people increase their effectiveness, advance their careers, and create a more productive organisation. Mentoring at the University of Glasgow will also  form a key part of the talent management and succession planning processes within Schools, Institutes and Services.

Mentoring is a relationship between two people; the mentor and the mentee. As a mentor, you pass on valuable skills, knowledge and insights to your mentee to help them develop their career or achieve a better worklife balance. 

Mentoring can help the mentee feel more confident and self-supporting. Mentees can also develop a clearer sense of what they want in their careers and their personal lives. They will develop greater self-awareness. 

Mentoring within the University allow staff the time with an experienced colleague to explore various issues, such as career progression, worklife balance and career paths.  These pages will focus on mentoring in general. If you are thinking of setting up a mentoring scheme, you can refer to our mentoring scheme best practice guide on how to do this.  If you are in the Early Career Development Programme, please refer to the ECDP mentoring pages. 

Benefits of mentoring

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 (or, more commonly, the protégé). The mentor "opens doors", influencing others to help the mentee or protégé's advancement.

At the University we focus on developmental mentoring. 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


 The table below highlights some of the benefits for all those involved in mentoring:




  • increased confidence
  • improved performance
  • learn new insights and new approaches
  • explore possible solutions
  • increased understanding of accepted values and behaviours
  • increased understanding of how the School/RI/Service/University works
  • expanded network
  • support for proactive career development, planning and progression
  • support in achieving a satisfying work-life balance
  • opportunity to challenge your assumptions, broaden horizons, enhance your aspirations and achievements through reflection and access to a sounding board
  • 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


  • opportunity to inspire and share skills, knowledge, experience and understanding to ensure the mentee can better navigate the challenges and the formal and informal structures of the University and HE through inspiration and encouragement
  • opportunity to practice and further enhance your leadership and management skills as well as your communication and interpersonal skills outwith a line management relationship
  • opportunity to reflect on own practice and behaviours and gain a broader and deeper understanding of our working environment
  • personal fulfilment from investing in others
  • feeling valued as a role model
  • stimulation of own learning – a two way learning relationship
  • insights into relationship with own team
  • having an opportunity to be challenged
  • having an opportunity to take time out and reflect
  • renewed focus on own career and development

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


  • 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

Coaching, mentoring and advocacy


While coaching and mentoring share some tools and approaches, coaching relates to primarily performance improvement, often in a specific skills area. Mentoring is more holistic and relates to longer-term goals.




Ongoing relationship that can last for a long period of time

Relationship generally has a set duration

Can be more informal and meetings can take place as and when the mentee needs some advice, guidance or support

Generally more structured in nature and meetings are scheduled on a regular basis

More long-term and takes a broader view of the person

Short-term (sometimes time-bounded) and focused on specific development areas/issues

Mentor is usually more experienced and qualified than the mentee. Often a senior person in the organisation who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities

Coaching is generally not performed on the basis that the coach needs to have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused

Focus is on career and personal development

Focus is generally on development/issues at work

Agenda is set by the mentee, with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles

The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals

Mentoring revolves more around developing the mentee professional

Coaching revolves more around specific development areas/issues



Advocacy involves speaking or taking action on someone else’s behalf. Pure mentoring doesn’t allow for advocacy and none of the University schemes allow for advocacy.


Counselling is a highly skilled intervention focused on helping individuals address underlying psychological problems. If, as a mentor or mentee, you feel counselling is required then you should signpost or access the Employee Counselling Service. 

Mentoring in practice

Mentoring skills

To be an effective mentor you need to:

  • Have the desire to help – you should be willing to spend time helping someone else, and remain positive throughout.
  • Be motivated to continue developing and growing – to help others develop, you must value your own growth too. Many mentors say that mentoring helps them with their own personal development.
  • Have confidence and an assured manner – you should have the ability to critique and challenge mentees in a way that's non-threatening, and helps them look at a situation from a new perspective.
  • Ask the right questions – the best mentors ask questions that make the mentee do the thinking. However, this isn't as easy as it sounds. A simple guide is to think of what you want to tell the mentee, and to find a question that will help the mentee come to the same conclusion on their own. To do this, try asking open questions that cannot be answered with just yes or no. Or ask more direct questions that offer several answer options. Then ask the mentee why they chose that particular answer.
  • Listen actively – be careful to process everything the mentee is saying. Watch body language, maintain eye contact, and understand which topics are difficult for the mentee to discuss. Showing someone that you're listening is a valuable skill in itself. It shows that you value what the person is saying and that you won't interrupt them. This requires patience, and a willingness to delay judgment.
  • Provide feedback – do this in a way that accurately and objectively summarizes what you've heard, but also interprets things in a way that adds value for the mentee. In particular, use feedback to show that you understand what the mentee's thinking approach has been. This is key to helping the mentee see a situation from another perspective.

You might find this guide helpful:

Having a mentoring conversation

Mentor skills can be divided into organisational and interpersonal skills:

Organisational Skills Interpersonal Skills
  • planning
  • contracting
  • recording
  • structuring sessions
  • time management
  • scheduling
  • evaluating
  • assessing
  • report writing
  • maintaining boundaries
  • action planning
  • prioritising
  • facilitating
  • negotiating and influencing
  • listening
  • giving constructive feedback
  • intervention – prescriptive, informative, confrontational, cathartic, catalytic, supportive
  • questioning
  • motivating and encouraging
  • self-awareness
  • coaching/teaching
  • reflecting
  • non-judgemental
  • non-prejudicial

Although a mentor requires skills to be an effective mentor, both mentors and mentees require certain characteristics and qualities for a mentoring relationship to be effective: 

Characteristics of a good mentorCharacteristics of a good mentee
  • objective
  • role model
  • flexible
  • peer respect
  • demonstrable competence
  • reflective practitioner
  • nonthreatening attitude
  • facilitator of learning
  • allows development of initiative and independence
  • open minded
  • approachable
  • self-confident and self-aware
  • sincere
  • warm
  • committed
  • understanding
  • aptitude for the role
  • understanding of difficulties of integrating into
  • new/different work setting
  • able to help mentee set learning objectives
  • able to provide objective assessment of progress
  • willing to learn and develop
  • willing to participate
  • ambitious
  • keen to succeed
  • able to accept power and risk
  • loyal
  • committed
  • conscientious
  • able to develop alliances
  • flexible and adaptable
  • self-aware
  • well organised
  • able to accept a challenge
  • able to receive constructive feedback













Models and frameworks to help you with mentoring

Remember, mentoring is about transferring information, competence, and experience to mentees, so that they can make good use of this, and build their confidence accordingly. As a mentor, you are there to encourage, nurture, and provide support. Also remember that mentoring is about structured development – you don't have to tell the mentee everything you know about a subject, at every opportunity.

The GROW Model  is a coaching technique developed in the 1980s which can help establish what the mentee wants to discuss. 

Sample GROW questions for MPA/Tech/Ops staff

Sample GROW questions for R&T staff

Egan's skilled helper model is a three stage framework used to help people solve problems and develop opportunities.  The object is to achieve lasting change and to empower people to manage their own problems more effectively and develop unused opportunities more fully.

Egan's skilled helper model image


Stages of mentoring


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

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:

The first mentoring meeting

Code of Practice

Mentoring sign off

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

Egan's skilled helper model

Having a mentoring conversation

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.

The mentoring relationship

The mentoring relationship should be mentee driven, in that the mentee takes responsibility for initiating the first meeting, and sets the initial agenda. The mentoring relationship should remain confidential, unless there is a concern which requires confidentiality to be broken.

The mentee’s needs and the mentor’s resources vary over time so it is important to check in and assess where you are at the moment. Conditions and interests need to be reappraised from time to time.

The length of mentoring relationships can vary, but it is suggested anything less than 6 months would be less beneficial. Mentoring relationships can last a year or longer, provided they are worthwhile. Meetings should last between 60-90 minutes.

If for any reason you feel the mentoring relationship isn’t working as well as it could or it has been a poor match, mentor or mentee should raise this with one another in the first instance. If this can’t be resolved then you should contact either your local HR contact for mentoring or your scheme co-ordinator.

Either the mentor or the mentee can end the relationship, but this would ideally be through mutual consent when the mentoring relationship has come to a natural end. 

The mentoring meeting

The first session is all about getting the relationship off to a good start by establishing some ground rules and acknowledging that the relationship is two-way. It's also the best time to agree what you hope to achieve and share your expectations of one another. You will need to mention confidentiality, responsibility, when you would like to meet and for how long, how you’ll keep in touch to arrange other meetings and the best way to remind each other of your meeting. 

In the first meeting you should cover:

Your mentee's ambitions and goals in relation to:

  • particular issues being faced
  • achievements so far and how to build on them
  • realistic expectations
  • scale of priorities
  • areas on which your mentee would find input most useful


And a few basic essentials:

  • frequency of meetings
  • venue for follow up meetings
  • decision about email and/or telephone contact
  • discussing and signing an agreement, if applicable
  • confidentiality
  • how you will record progress and issues/targets for further development

You may wish to keep a record of meetings and/or develop an action plan.

Refer to the 'mentoring in practice' section for more guidance on how to make the most out of mentoring meetings. 



Recommended books

Clutterbuck, D. (2004) Everyone Needs a Mentor: Fostering Talent in Your Organisation, 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