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Mentor FAQs | Mentee FAQs

1. Who is behind the initiative?

The initiative was originally the idea of a staff member from King's College London It has now been running successfully for several years. The scheme is supported by the Equality and Diversity managers in each participating university, and senior staff are supportive of the scheme.

2. What are the advantages of a cross-institutional approach as opposed to B-MEntor schemes within our own institutions?

The reality is that there are comparatively few BME staff in academia, especially in more senior positions, so it made sense on a practical level to pool mentees and mentors. The added advantages are that it promotes collaborative work across the institutions, provides opportunities for networking and also enables the mentees to speak more frankly to someone outside their institution for a more impartial view of their situation.  However, it may be necessary to match within an institution, if this is the best match or no other match is available.

3. We have coaching schemes in place and I am coaching staff already; how will the mentoring be different?

There are different definitions for both coaching and mentoring, but if mentors have coaching expertise they can decide when best to deploy these techniques. The role of mentor and differences between coaching and mentoring are addressed in the mentor induction workshops. Broadly speaking, we expect mentors to exhibit active listening skills and give more direct advice when prompted e.g. on how to write grant applications. It is up to individual mentors to decide upon a style of mentoring they are comfortable with and also meets the needs of the mentees. Further advice on this can be sought from the relevant member of the project group on a case-by-case basis. 

4. How will a potential mismatch of expectations be avoided?

During the pairing exercise the project group pay particular attention to the specifications of mentees and mentors and the information given by both parties during induction sessions. It is also recommended that expectations are discussed openly during the first meeting. 

5. What happens if we just don't get along?

This isn't a problem. Speak to the project group member from your institution about the issues you are having to see if they can be informally resolved. If not then the 'no fault' withdrawal option can be invoked. 

6. Can I participate as a mentor even though I live outside London and making regular face to face meetings may be more difficult?

Mentees would not be expected to travel outside London, particularly as travel expenses are not covered by the programme. If very few face-to-face meetings occur, participation may be difficult, but we recommend that other means of communication are explored such as email, telephone meetings and Skype.

7. What is the motivation of mentees volunteering for this scheme?

The most commonly cited goals for participating in the scheme are to achieve promotion, improve their research skills & output, to learn leadership and line management skills and to better integrate into higher education in the UK (international staff). 

8. What are the main barriers that mentees face?

Limited professional networks, unfamiliarity with higher education in the UK, lack of confidence, the lack of transparency in recruitment in academia, securing funding and many of the usual difficulties that all early career academics experience. 

9. I can help with careers advice/direction but am less comfortable about discussing diversity issues? Does that matter?

It depends on what the mentee is looking for, as some mentees rank this as more important than others. Inevitably the issue of difference will come up in conversation over the course of a year, and we have supplied a list of do's and don'ts for talking about cultural diversity for mentors to support those who are less confident in this area. Further specialist support can be provided by the respective project group leads for each institution. 

10. How will the matching take place?

The matching is an informal exercise carried out by the project group based on the information supplied to the group on the expression of interest forms and refined in the feedback forms completed at the end of the induction workshops. 

11. Can we get in touch with their line manager, if we think it appropriate?

You should only do this with express permission of the mentee. If there are complex issues involved, then first of all discuss this, in confidence, with the project group member from your institution. 

12. Where should we meet?

The onus is upon mentees to travel to meet mentors at an appropriate location. This could be the mentor's office or a nearby café. It wouldn't be appropriate in most situations to travel to the mentor's home.

13. Will there be any supervision of mentoring pairs?

There will be no formal supervision, but if any problems need troubleshooting you should contact the project group lead for your institution. 

14. I am fairly new to mentoring - will there be some practical resources on activities to undertake with my mentee?

You will be provided with a pocketsized handbook and also some resources devised especially for the programme. We hope to organise some workshops on practical topics like active listening skills in the coming year. 

15. What other support will there be for mentors?

Mentors can contact their project group lead at any time in the coming year if there are particular issues that need resolving. If project group members need additional advice they will liaise with the external consultants who delivered the induction sessions. 

16. Will we be expected to act as a referee?

This is unlikely as it will be difficult to vouch for the quality of the mentees' work. Mentors should only give references for skills and knowledge they can personally vouch for e.g. interpersonal skills. 

17. How will we be able to identify potential training opportunities?

Mentees will be kept informed of any upcoming workshops and training sessions by email. 



Last updated: 25th September 2017