Guidance for mentors and mentees

Background | Definition of mentoring | Mentoring excellence | Expectation of mentors | Expectations of mentees | Matching mentees and mentors | Sessions for mentors


  • To identify, develop and deploy high potential staff in DH and its ALBs who have indicated an aspiration to develop their career as a leader within the national health and care system.
  • To tailor learning and development to prepare senior high potential staff for national leadership posts within DH and its ALBs.
  • To provide system-wide career opportunities by sharing development provision.
  • Development will include:
    • formal skills training;
    • mentoring;
    • coaching; and
    • practical learning opportunities across all partner organisations.
  • Continuous development and deployment will be overseen by the HCLS Talent Board, chaired by Duncan Selbie.

Definition of mentoring

Mentoring involves models and skills of:

  • questioning;
  • listening;
  • clarifying; and
  • use of interpersonal skills to help someone think through an issue and decide a way forward.

The mentor uses their greater knowledge and experience of the:

  • work
  • workplace; or
  • particular challenges to support the development of more inexperienced members of staff.

Although in some contexts mentoring can be used to describe a long term relationship and may also involve the experienced individual sponsoring or promoting the interests of the mentee, the HCLS mentoring scheme is intended to last six-12 months.

Mentoring excellence

How to be an effective mentor

The key to creating great mentoring relationships is to aim to motivate and inspire right from that first meeting. Mentors have a valuable opportunity to encourage their mentees and bring a positive energy that they may not get in either their personal and / or professional lives. It is a great feeling when you have helped your mentees link their own goals, values and emotions to that of their organisation.

Always be thinking about developing that mentoring relationship at each meeting. Initially, this may involve assessing your own readiness and interest, selecting someone to mentor that you will learn from also and someone that you will have a good rapport with. Over time, this may mean working to build increased trust, to set increasingly challenging goals that are meaningful to them and keeping a constant check that the mentoring relationship remains on track and relevant.

Finally, remember you can play an important role in both teaching and surveying the environment. Good mentors tend to keep a watchful eye on the horizon, looking for threats and positive opportunities. You want to be on the lookout for great shortcuts through the system for your mentee, highly-visible projects that could be approached or those win/win assignments that could help your mentee in their learning.

Expectations of mentors

  • Director or DG / CEO level from a different participating organisation to the mentee.
  • Training and / or experience of mentoring.
  • To prepare a brief biography which will be made available to all participants.
  • Matching - mentees will be offered 15 minute calls with two-three potential mentors.
  • Three-six sessions (approx. 90 mins) over six-12 months.
  • Mentor face-to-face or by Skype / phone.
  • If face-to-face, mentee travels to you.
  • Initial three way contracting with line manager.
  • May offer more if you wish.
  • Commit to one individual at a time. No minimum number of mentees, but be clear on what you are able to do.

Expectations of mentees

  • Mentees are expected to travel to the mentor.
  • You are responsible for making your own arrangements for sessions.
  • Please bear in mind that your mentor is undertaking this in addition to their main role so cannot be as flexible as a paid professional coach.

Matching mentees and mentors

  • PHE will maintain a spreadsheet of mentors by organisation, job role and some indication of interests and experience.
  • A structured way of matching mentors and mentees, giving each mentee an option of  two-three mentors, based on compatibility.
  • A 'phone a friend' service for mentors and mentees who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship or for mentors who would like to talk through an issue.

Sessions for mentors

Briefing sessions for mentors where they can discuss and ask questions. Ideally over Skype for business but by telephone conference if this technology is not available to some organisations.

Refresher sessions on mentoring are available. We will post upcoming dates when they become available.