Mentoring - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy provides a standard definition for and a consistent approach to mentoring for academic and professional staff across the University.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Organised mentoring – mentoring that occurs within a structured program coordinated by the organisational unit or as part of a professional development program.

Informal mentoring – mentoring that occurs outside an organised mentoring program, initiated by the mentor or mentee.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy covers both organised mentoring programs and informal mentoring relationships, in which all staff in the University can choose to participate.

Mentoring is separate to performance management and performance appraisal processes (refer to policies and procedures under PPL Section 5.70).

4. Policy Statement

The University supports and encourages mentoring. Mentoring is a voluntary, confidential relationship. A mentoring relationship is an effective and efficient staff development method that makes use of the University’s wealth of internal capability, benefits both parties involved, and produces a return on the relatively small investment of time and finances involved.

The specific objectives of the policy are to:

  • emphasise that mentoring is a relationship that is entered into and developed voluntarily and is not a process to be imposed;
  • explicitly recognise mentoring as a valuable and valued element of the staff development framework described in Policy and Guidelines PPL 5.80.01 Staff Development;
  • ensure that mentoring, particularly in support of individual development and career advancement, is neither confused with nor substituted for supervisory responsibilities arising from the performance appraisal system;
  • establish that mentoring relationships in whatever form are governed by existing policies on quality, equal opportunity, inclusiveness, code of conduct and privacy; and
  • support and encourage the growth of more strategically managed mentoring activities within individual organisational units and across the University as a whole.

There is no intention to impose arrangements in organisational units where there is no requirement or to disturb existing arrangements that are functioning well.

5. Defining Mentoring

5.1 The nature of mentoring

The University supports a view of mentoring as a private and non-reporting relationship that:

  • disturbs none of the organisational structures in place;
  • enables developments in knowledge, work or thinking;
  • involves a non-directive dialogue rather than instructing;
  • is additional to other forms of staff development and support; and
  • could assist the University’s objectives in equal opportunity.

Organised mentoring occurs as part of a structured program, and informal mentoring is independently initiated by a mentor and mentee whenever needed.

Organisational units have responsibility for designing, implementing and evaluating local mentoring programs.

5.2 Differentiating mentoring from supervising

Heads of organisational units and supervisors have responsibility to organise tasks and work processes, define roles and priorities, provide appraisal and a development plan and a research plan (as appropriate), and address performance related issues in order to meet the University's objectives. Additionally they are responsible for developing the staff reporting to them. It is appropriate that this includes engaging in activities such as mentoring, coaching, training and guiding.

Key characteristics distinguishing the role of a mentor from that of a supervisor are that:

  • the mentor has no supervisory responsibility or authority over the mentee;
  • the mentoring relationship provides a confidential, non-judgemental and non-directive environment;
  • the parties to the relationship are equal within and share responsibility for the relationship; and
  • the overall developmental needs of the mentee are the main focus within the relationship.

The role and responsibility of heads of organisational units and supervisors with respect to staff development and performance management is in no way diminished by application of this policy.

6. The Role of the Mentor

Mentoring usually involves a more experienced person guiding and sponsoring a less experienced person to achieve goals in an area in which the mentor has experience, which can involve:

  • sharing expertise and experiences;
  • suggesting solutions to problems;
  • acting as a sounding board and providing alternative perspectives;
  • exchanging feedback; and
  • introducing the mentee to people and networks to assist them in their career.

The mentor and mentee share the duty to observe the confidential nature of the relationship and the dialogue arising within it.

7. The Role of the Mentee

The role of the mentee can vary depending on the context and purpose of the mentoring relationship but will, in principle, include:

  • taking responsibility for identifying and achieving their own development goals;
  • initiating meetings with the mentor, managing meeting dates and times and negotiating the agenda for discussions within the relationship;
  • listening, clarifying, reflecting back and discussing;
  • sharing expertise and experience; and
  • sharing feedback with the mentor about how the relationship is progressing in order to improve the outcomes they are achieving from mentoring meetings.

8. The Role of Heads of Organisational Units

It is expected that heads of organisational units will review the mentoring needs of their staff as part of their annual strategic planning process.

Heads of organisational units and supervisors are encouraged to specifically recognise the value of mentoring skills by:

  • planning for staff, who act or will act as mentors, to participate in appropriate training and receive adequate support as and when required;
  • taking account of the workload implications when planning the contributions of individuals as mentors or as mentoring program coordinators; and
  • acknowledging significant individual contributions and good practice as a mentor as a component of service in performance reviews.
Chief Human Resources Officer


Designing and Implementing a Mentoring Program - Guidelines

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1.  Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a common framework, based on best practice principles, to support and inform the design of new, and the continuing development of existing, organised mentoring arrangements at The University of Queensland.

2.  Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Organised mentoring – mentoring that occurs within a structured program coordinated by the organisational unit or as part of a professional development program.

Informal mentoring – mentoring that occurs outside an organised mentoring program, initiated by the mentor or mentee.

3.  Guidelines Scope/Coverage

These guidelines cover organised mentoring programs. Programs may be designed for particular cohorts of staff, depending on the purpose of the program.

4.  Guidelines Statement

Organisational units are responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of their own programs.

5.  Purpose of Mentoring

Mentoring relationships can vary according to the context and reasons for establishing them. Mentoring is commonly used as a method of transferring specific skills, knowledge and norms to staff as a component in induction, professional development and diversity management programs.

In a staff development framework that emphasises self-managed learning (refer to PPL 5.80.1 Staff Development - Policy), best practice indicates the need for mentoring that encourages mutual learning within the relationship as well as the desire for development in support of organisational goals.

6.  Principles of Best Practice in Mentoring Arrangements

Coordinators of mentoring programs should follow these principles:

  • Ensure that information about the program is equally available to all staff in the organisational unit or units covered by the program.
  • Provide a clear statement of objectives for the program based on identified staff and organisational needs.
  • Recruit a program sponsor who can deliver adequate resources and influence internal arrangements and strategies to ensure that the objectives are achievable.
  • Make clear statements on the roles of and expectations for all parties.
  • Encourage voluntary participation by both mentors and mentees. This does not preclude prior identification of potential participants.
  • Base mentor selection on a list of skills and qualities that are consistent with the program's objectives.
  • Give mentees clear instructions on their responsibilities in the relationship and require them to prepare a statement of their development objectives.
  • Provide the opportunity for any participant to request a change in mentoring partner or to withdraw from the program without recrimination.
  • Make adequate training and other support available for all participants, including the coordinator of the mentoring program and the supervisors of mentees where appropriate.
  • Design on-going evaluation into the program prior to implementation.

7. Implementation

Heads of organisational units have responsibility for local program design, implementation and evaluation. There is no prescription as to which model should be selected since this will depend substantially on the local context and purpose for establishing the program.

Small units that wish to provide mentoring support to staff but lack adequate resources could seek to establish a joint or pooling program with another or several other units.

From time to time, central units including Human Resources may offer mentoring programs (or development programs incorporating mentoring) for a particular purpose and target group.

The Organisational Development team in Human Resources is available for consultation on mentoring program design.

It is expected as a normal part of the duties and responsibilities of all staff that those with greater experience freely provide appropriate support and guidance to less experienced colleagues on request and particularly in regard to the institutional knowledge required in order to perform their duties effectively.

8. Involvement of Heads and Supervisors

Heads and supervisors have a responsibility to keep themselves informed of staff development needs as well as the availability of appropriate support mechanisms, including organised mentoring arrangements, and to transmit that information to staff. They should participate in any discussion to arrange a mentoring relationship for a staff member reporting to them.

Specific development outcomes from or issues identified within the mentoring relationship can be fed into the performance appraisal process if requested by the mentee and agreed to by the mentor. Supervisors, however, have no direct role in the relationship and will not receive information that is confidential to the relationship.

Chief Human Resources Officer
Chief Human Resources Officer