Human Resources

University of Portsmouth Staff Mentoring Scheme

The University People Strategy 2016 - 2020 highlights our commitment to developing staff capabilities, including creating an institution-wide coaching and mentoring culture.

Mentoring is a supportive opportunity to aid staff in identifying and achieving career goals.  It supports the development of a culture of equality and diversity and contributes to our Athena SWAN and HR Excellence in Research award commitment. 

Why bother?

We ask that line-managers are supportive of the scheme as it’s a strategic aim which supports the development of our staffing capability. 

What is mentoring?

Whilst there is no single definition of mentoring, it is, a supportive relationship where a more experienced individual (the mentor) is assigned to act as an adviser or guide to a junior or less experienced colleague (the mentee).  Broadly - a mentoring relationship is:

  • Confidential
  • A safe place to explore ideas and facilitate learning
  • An opportunity to facilitate professional development

Benefits of mentoring

Mentoring can help staff continuously develop their skills, including the resilience to face transition and change.  Mentees benefit in many ways by having an opportunity to learn from a role-model and mentors find that it can be a very rewarding and developmental experience for themselves giving an opportunity to reflect on their own experience and practice.  Mentoring partnerships are generally finite and should come to a natural end when the mentee's objectives have been achieved. 

Why do we have a mentoring scheme?

Many staff have already benefited from informal or department specific mentoring relationships.  A more formal scheme aims to ensure that all staff have equal access to be matched to a mentor who can offer appropriate support.  It also sets an expectation that we will all mentor others and support the organisation’s capability.  For the scheme to be effective, we need a ‘sharing mindset’.  We have probably all benefited from mentoring skills to help us develop our career – even if our mentors didn’t have that title at the time. 

Why do we need a formal scheme?

Using mentor matching software enables us to identify needs across the University and offer support in a fair and consistent way.  It also means that we can capture data about mentoring partnerships and measure the scope of mentoring activity across the University. 

Being a mentee

Mentees can be any member of staff who would find it useful to have a neutral mentor who can help them identify and achieve specific objectives that they set for themselves.  Mentees should be prepared to invest (approximately) one hour per month for a period of up to twelve months. 

There are many benefits to the scheme as the focus is on the mentee, allowing them to highlight areas they feel advice and/or assistance is required.  Participation can really help improve skills within the workplace.  Learning from a more experienced colleague may also aid career development, particularly for potential future roles.  With mentoring often being conducted ‘informally’ it is also an excellent opportunity to discuss problems that may have arisen, and gain advice/support from a ‘neutral’ person.

Being a mentor

Anyone can be a mentor if they have skills to pass on, with the most significant requirements being a commitment to support others and making the time to participate.  You need to be committed to using listening and questioning skills and be prepared to share your knowledge, expertise and experience when appropriate. 

Ideally, mentors should be prepared to invest (approximately) one hour per month to the activity.  In addition to the positive impact for the organisation, mentors often express satisfaction from passing on knowledge and playing a role in the development of their colleagues. 

How do I register my interest in becoming either a mentor or a mentee?

To join the scheme, either as a mentee or mentor, please complete the online application form.

Once your application has been submitted, you will receive an automatic acknowledgement email from SUMAC (the mentoring management system used by the University of Portsmouth).  To ensure that you receive our emails, and they don't get classed as 'Junk', please set 'staffmentoring@portsmouth.org.uk' as a permitted domain in your email settings. 

For MS Outlook: click on 'Junk mail' on the menu bar and select' Never block sender's domain'.

How do I find a mentor to suit me? 

The SUMAC software will identify mentors who are well suited to the issues mentees most want to focus on.  If a suitable mentor is available, SUMAC will send mentees an email with details.  The email will give guidance on what to do next. 

What are my responsibilities as a manager? 

You have a significant role in supporting the People Strategy 2016 - 2020 to develop our capability by investing in learning and development and creating an institution-wide coaching and mentoring culture.  You probably already informally mentor your direct reports.  Additionally, your role in the formal scheme is to facilitate and support mentoring meetings alongside ensuring normal business objectives. 

How do I get my line managers support?

Your manager may need to agree the timings of any meetings you plan with your mentor, particularly if they impact on the delivery of normal business objectives. 

How do we plan and arrange meetings?

The expectation is that mentees are responsible for arranging meetings with their mentor, approximately once a month, and you are encouraged to meet in a neutral, private space, (i.e. away from your normal workplace) so that you have an opportunity to think, talk and reflect. 

How do we know what to do when we meet up?

The Learning and Development toolkit contains material to support mentoring, including top tips for being mentored and being a mentor.  Additional support is available should you require it by emailing staffmentoring@port.ac.uk.