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Thank you most sincerely for agreeing to mentor a GCU new graduate. 

Our 2021 graduates in particular enter a very uncertain employment market and will face many challenges ahead. Therefore, the guidance of an experienced mentor could be invaluable. We hope that this will be a mutually rewarding experience for both yourself and your student or graduate.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a one to one confidential partnership where an experienced GCU graduate (mentor) is matched with a GCU final year student or new graduate (mentee). The aim is to give mentees an opportunity to gain an insight into their preferred employment sector, develop employability skills and personal networks through the help of a mentor.   The mentoring partnership provides a confidential and safe space where mentees and mentors can discuss and share experiences, as well as generate and explore ideas.

Some mentees have a clear idea of the career path they intend to follow and would value a mentor who can provide a real-life insight into that sector.  Others may be less sure of career options and would appreciate the help of a mentor to provide an insight into their role or sector.

Who can become a mentor?

Anyone can become a mentor at any stage of their career. So, whether you are just starting out, are more established in your role, or are an expert in your field, you can get involved in mentoring. You can also become a mentor at the same time as being a mentee yourself.

Mentors do not have to have all the answers. They are there to support the mentee to reach their goals. This means the mentor’s characteristics and how they engage with others is really important.

Good mentors possess many positive interpersonal qualities. Good mentors are often:

  • Approachable
  • Authentic
  • Expert
  • Encouraging
  • Empathetic
  • Good listeners
  • Good communicators
  • Helpful
  • Inspiring
  • Non-judgmental
  • Respectful
  • Supportive

If people use these words to describe you, then it is likely you will be a good mentor.

All our mentors are GCU graduates themselves.

Our mentees tell us:

‘It was beneficial to have someone who could resonate with me and it felt like we had something in common being a GCU graduate.’

‘Having a fellow graduate of GCU as a mentor was the best gift I could ever receive just before arriving in Scotland. She brings a wealth of knowledge and professional expertise that has enabled me to integrate well and develop as an entrepreneur.’

‘The association with my mentor as a fellow graduate was much stronger, and she was always literally an email away.’

Why do people become mentors?

Mentoring offers the mentor the opportunity to share knowledge and experience with others to help them develop and grow. In doing so, you are helping to prepare the next generation of talent to succeed.

Reasons people give for becoming mentors include:

  • A desire to see things from others’ perspectives
  • Wanting to learn from someone who is not like themselves
  • Developing their communication and leadership skills
  • Increasing their network
  • Adding to their CV. 

Although the mentoring sessions focus on the mentee’s goals, mentoring can lead to mutual growth. Through the mentoring process, the mentor can find out more about themselves and develop their own skills. In addition, the mentor can often learn a lot from the mentee – from their different experiences, attitudes and approaches to problem-solving. In this way, mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience.

Our mentors tell us:

‘This has unequivocally been a hugely positive experience for me.

Whilst this is my first mentoring experience with GCU, I have been mentoring for over 15 years and it is one of the most rewarding things I have done. In my time, I have mentored a mixture of school leavers, graduates, post-graduates, colleagues and peers and this one with Anna is right up there as one of the best. It’s always important that people enter into these things with the right level of commitment and not just make it a tick-box exercise - even if you’re unsure what you want out of it at the outset, be committed and spend the right level of energy at time at it. My mentee did just that and the reward for me was seeing someone smart, ambitious, resilient, open minded and flexible achieving something that she couldn’t have quite envisaged at the beginning. I’m looking forward to doing it all again.’

‘It was a really exciting opportunity. My mentee was travelling across Africa at the time so we had to work through time differences, weather events and internet stability. Even so we were able to hold purposeful mentoring sessions. This ultimately resulted in my mentee securing a new job – a significant step towards their longer-term career ambitions. It is a privilege to build a meaningful relationship with your mentee, to support them and learn about the amazing progress they have made.’

What do mentors do?

In a mentoring session, your role as a mentor is to listen to what your mentee would like to focus on, and work with them to define a specific goal for the session. You can help your mentee work towards their goal by:

  • Actively listening to them
  • Asking open questions
  • Keeping the conversation focused
  • Discussing options, providing feedback and challenging them
  • Sharing your own ideas and expertise.

Open questions

Open questions are most likely to start with ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, ‘who’, and ‘which’.  They cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This encourages your mentee to think more deeply and offer more insightful responses, and helps you to direct them towards their goal.

Active listening

Active listening is another key skill that will improve the quality of your mentoring. Active listening means taking in a person’s words, body language and behaviour, which can help you identify the meaning behind their words, or what they are not saying.

Pay attention

Give your mentee your undivided attention and look out for non-verbal cues, such as body language or facial expressions. 

Show that you are listening.

Maintain appropriate levels of eye contact  to show you are listening while they are talking: nod your head, smile, and take notes.

Check your understanding

Summarise and reflect on what you heard, using phrases such as ‘from what you’ve said, my understanding is...’, and ‘that sounds like you are saying...’. Show you were listening by using some of the same words your mentee used.

Be open minded

Do not stop to evaluate ideas while they are being generated. Instead, allow your mentee to finish each point before offering counter-arguments, asking questions or giving your opinion. 

The GROW model

G is for goals. Identifying a goal for your mentoring conversation is the first step in helping your mentee progress towards their desired outcome. It will help you understand what to focus the conversation on.

Asking open questions can help your mentee identify a goal for the session. Good examples include:

  • How can we best use this session?
  • Where do you need the most help?
  • Where do you want to go from here?
  • When do you want to achieve this by?

Use active listening skills to identify what is behind the words they are saying, and check your understanding with phrases like ‘my understanding of what you’ve said is…’.

R in the GROW model stands for reality: what is going on for your mentee right now? Your role as mentor is to keep this part brief. Make sure your mentee does not get bogged down in detail about what has happened in the past; mentoring is about focusing on the future and identifying what can be done to move forwards.

Use open questions to help your mentee explore the reality:

  • What is happening now? What is the effect or result of this? 
  • How do you feel about this situation or person?
  • When is this a problem?
  • What is holding you back?
  • When do you feel most confident?
  • What steps have you already taken towards your goal?
  • What have you learned about the situation so far?

Actively listen to what they are telling you. Keep them focused on the present by asking future focused questions relating to the goal if they start to stray towards the past.

O is for options. This part of the session is about exploring possibilities that could ultimately help your mentee achieve their goal. Your role here is to listen to your mentee and ask them questions to help them explore their options, while keeping the conversation focused on the goal. Encourage your mentee to think creatively and come up with as many ideas as they can, and challenge them to generate even more options and choices. Share your ideas only when your mentee has run out of their own.

Asking these open questions can help your mentee come up with as many ideas and options as possible:

  • What have you already thought about doing?
  • What else could you do?
  • What could you do if all obstacles or constraints were removed?
  • What might you do if you had all the resources you needed?
  • Who could help you achieve your goal?
  • What could be another way of looking at this situation?
  • What are you currently doing well that is helping you get where you want to go?
  • What could you do differently to overcome the challenges you are facing?

Finally, W stands for will. Here, the mentee identifies one or two of the options to explore in more detail, to move them towards achieving their goal. Your role is to help your mentee decide which options to follow up, and discuss the specific steps and actions they could take.

Asking these questions can help your mentee commit to decisions and actions:

  • Which idea(s) shall we explore to create actions to help you reach your goal?
  • Which of these should be addressed first?
  • What are some of the steps involved?
  • Specifically, what will you do and when will you do it?
  • What will keep you motivated?
  • What support or resources do you need?

Pay attention to their body language, as well as their words, to get a sense of whether they feel able to pursue the options they have chosen.

At the end of the session, ensure your mentee has reached an outcome or has identified an action that will help them move towards achieving their goal. Encourage your mentee to reflect on what you have discussed, and keep a learning journal to document their learning and the actions they have committed to – this will help them to see the progress they are making towards their goal.

Developing a professional partnership

"Put the relationship before the mentorship. All too often, mentorship can evolve into a 'check the box' procedure instead of something authentic and relationship based." Harvard Business Review, 2019

Here are some tips for developing a professional and successful partnership with your mentee:

  • Treat the mentoring partnership as you would any professional relationship
  • Avoid conflicts of interest – do not work together if it is not appropriate for you to do so
  • Meet regularly, and maintain appropriate contact between sessions
  • Make mentoring a priority – try to avoid cancelling or rearranging sessions where possible
  • Set clear personal boundaries so the partnership remains mutually respectful
  • Be honest, open and encouraging
  • If difficulties arise, discuss and review the situation to try to get the partnership back on track by agreeing what to do differently. 

Confidentiality

As part of the mentoring relationship, you are likely to discuss personal details in relation to your work and career with your mentee.  Similarly, your mentee will talk to you about their experiences. It is important that your conversations remain confidential. You should discuss confidentiality at the outset of the mentoring relationship and revisit this agreement when necessary.

Stages of the mentoring process

These are the key stages in the mentoring process:

  1. Starting the mentoring partnership
  2. Mentoring sessions
  3. Mid-point review
  4. Remaining mentoring sessions
  5. Concluding the mentoring partnership.

It is good practice to review the progress and the partnership itself part way through and at the end of the mentoring programme to give it every chance of success, keep it fresh and iron out any potential problems

Timeline

Your mentee will make the initial contact with you to introduce themselves.

The mentoring process will last for a period of 6 months, starting in March 2021 and ending in August 2021. You should decide on the amount and level of support you can realistically provide within this time frame and agree this with your mentee at the start. We recommend a minimum of one virtual meeting per month.

All mentees will have completed a short training session which explains the mentoring process and expectations of them as mentees.  

The key actions for your first meeting are:

  • Develop a rapport with your mentee
  • Get to know your mentee and find out about their current situation
  • Find out what they want to achieve through the mentoring partnership
  • Manage their expectations by explaining the mentoring process
  • Discuss how you will work together, and for how long
  • Explain that anything discussed in the mentoring conversation is confidential. 

The mid-point review

The mid-point review is an opportunity for you and your mentee to pause and reflect on the mentoring partnership, to identify successes and areas for improvement. Good questions to ask each other include:

  • What is working well for you?
  • What could we do more or less of?
  • What can we start or stop doing?
  • As a result of this reflection, what will we do differently from now on?
  • What support or guidance do we need?
  • What can we do to keep the partnership fresh and focused?

The mid-point review is not the only time you can discuss the mentoring partnership. Take a few moments in each mentoring session to reflect on how everything is going – this will give you both a chance to make sure you are giving and getting the best from mentoring. For example, you might realise that meeting on a different day or at a different time would work better for you both, or your mentee might identify that their goals have changed over time, and therefore the focus of the sessions needs to be adjusted too.

In your next session after the mid-point review, make sure you address the points raised in the review and course-correct to ensure your mentee’s needs are being met.

Concluding the mentoring partnership

Mentoring should not be a dependent, on-going partnership.  It should have a defined end date, which could be when the mentee has reached their goal(s), when the formal mentoring programme comes to an end, or once the agreed duration has been reached (e.g. 6 months). If mentoring is supporting another activity (e.g. a course or a work placement), the end date will be dependent on that other activity.

Most often, a mentoring partnership will conclude because the agreed end date has been reached. However, a mentoring partnership may come to an end before this date if the mentee achieves their goal earlier than expected. 

In the final session with your mentee:

  • review the overall progress they have made towards their goal, highlighting how they have grown and developed over the course of the partnership
  • celebrate successes
  • discuss their next steps and future goals
  • help the mentee identify any future support, if necessary.

During the final session, evaluate whether the mentoring partnership has reached its natural end point. If your mentee identifies further goals, and you both decide to continue the partnership, the mentoring cycle can start again. You could also encourage your mentee to become a mentor if they feel ready and able to.

After your final session, take the time to consider how you have personally grown and developed as a result of the mentoring partnership. Identify the next steps for your own learning and development, and whether you would benefit from having your own mentor. Remember, you could mentor again in the future.