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The University of Southampton
Centre for Higher Education Practice

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a protected relationship which supports learning and experimentation and helps individuals develop their potential.

A mentoring relationship is one where both mentor and mentee recognise the need for personal development. Successful mentoring is based upon trust and confidentiality.

Definitions of mentoring

“Mentoring is for the mentee. Most of all, for the mind of the mentee. I think that Mentoring needs to focus on and develop the mentee’s finest independent thinking about their work, their career, their life, their dreams.The Mentor’s perspective is an important ingredient in this special relationship. But it feeds. It is not the feast” – (Kline 2009)


“to help and support people to manage their own learning in order to maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be” – (Parsloe 1992)


“off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking” – (Megginson and Clutterbuck 1995)


“A learning relationship which helps people to take charge of their own development, to release their potential and to achieve results which they value” – (Connor and Pokora 2007)

The different types of mentoring 

Mentors may enter a long term mentoring relationship or may be called upon to act as a one-step mentoring advice point for a specific topic. In all roles, the mentor will act as an independent source of career advice and support. Training is available for both mentors and mentees and is strongly advised prior to entering into any form of mentoring relationship.

Long-term formal mentoring

Long term formal mentoring involves a number of meetings with the same mentor over a period of time. As either mentor and mentee you will be participating in a formal University of Southampton mentoring programme and you will both have agreed to a level of commitment to the programme. This gives you both the chance to get to know each other, and therefore the mentor can tailor how they share their experience and give encouragement.

One-stop mentoring advice

If you have a specific need you can select a mentor with experience in that specialist area to meet with once (or more if you wish!)

Informal mentoring

There are currently many informal mentoring relationships within the University. An important advantage of having undertaken mentoring training, even for informal mentoring relationships, is that there will be a shared understanding of the mentoring process for both mentor and mentee.

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