Organisational Development

Case Studies

You can read about the real experiences of colleagues in the Staff Mentoring Programme below, and how mentoring has helped with their professional development. With thanks to our mentors and mentees for sharing their experience.

Case Study One - Mentor

I joined the Staff Mentoring Programme as a mentor because I wanted to help someone and make a difference to their career and life. Mentoring someone from another School allowed the mentee and myself to speak more openly about any issues, as I could provide an independent sounding board not knowing the people involved. Although I attempt to follow the GROW model, each mentoring session has played out differently to meet the mentee’s needs.selected quote from text

Being a mentor has been very valuable for myself. It has helped me to understand better how younger colleagues think and what is important in their lives, which helps me interact with colleagues in my School and students. Mentoring has also taught me to ask more open and honest questions, and to become a better listener. Hearing mentees come up with novel solutions, that I had never considered when faced with similar problems, has been rewarding. At times I found it challenging when mentees raised issues where I could not think of a solution. Working through the issue with the mentee made me realise that I do not have to have the answer(s), but by asking the right questions can help them identify their ways forward.Two people in a meeting

I hope that my mentees have benefitted from our monthly meetings, enabling them to try out difficult conversations, decide on next steps and be held accountable, and from just having a confidential space to talk through concerns in a safe, non-judgemental setting.

Overall, being a mentor in the Staff Mentoring Programme has been a hugely enjoyable experience, especially seeing the progress and successes of my mentees. I am learning a lot from fellow mentors during the Community of Practice events and from my mentees.

Prof Jorn Scharlemann, Professor of Conservation Science

Case Study Two - Mentor

What attracted you to being a mentor in the Programme? mentor image 1

It gives me the opportunity to make a difference to colleagues who need to discuss challenges, future aspirations and University life.

How do you approach sessions?

I leave a lot of the design to the mentee.  I encourage them to set up meetings as they feel appropriate and to document at the end of the meeting.  The mentee then brings their chosen topics of conversation and I give them space and time to talk; my role is really to share on my experiences and expertise and to act as a sounding board.  I usually run the session for one hour, this is supported by the mentee's manager allowing them the time out of their working day.

If there is a more specific area that the mentee wants to discuss I usually ask for this information in advance. This allows me to identify resources such as workshops, books or learning tools.

I think that my listening skills have developed over time and enabled me to view things more objectively.

What did you personally get from being a mentor?

Personally I’ve met some really great people that I check in with now and again to see how things are going. Also to be able to share in their successes.

Challenges were differentiating between mentoring and counselling. There’s a very fine line between the two so having to keep myself in check.

What outcomes did you see for your mentee?

Having time with someone that you don’t know and doesn’t know your circumstances tends to allow the mentee to discuss with more openness. Confidentiality is key at all times and it’s great to see your mentee grow in confidence.selected quote from text

What would you say is the value of being a mentor?

Seeing your mentee achieve what they have set out to do. The staff mentoring programme gives you the opportunity to help and assist. The support of the team in OD is always there and allows you to check in if you are uncertain and you get regular training which is always advantageous.

What would you say to colleagues thinking about being mentored or mentoring others?

Do it!

Professional Services colleague, Grade 7, Female

Case Study Three - Mentor

What attracted you to being a mentor in the Programme?Two people in a meeting

I am developing my skills and knowledge as a manager, and I felt that coaching practice would be a positive addition to my CV. I was also keen to make connections with colleagues outside my immediate team, and to get that warm fuzzy feeling from supporting/helping someone!

How did you approach sessions?

I encouraged my mentee to take responsibility for setting the agenda for each session ahead of time. This enables me to prepare my thinking, and any research, on the questions or issues they were coming to the session with. It also encouraged my mentee to take ownership and responsibility for their learning and development.  During sessions, I tried to be a good listener, and focussed on reflecting back to my mentee what they were telling me, or what I had snoticed. If it was asked for, I offered advice from personal experience, or sign-posted useful resources.

What have you enjoyed about mentoring? What have you found challenging, and how have you overcome that?

I’ve found it very rewarding to watch my mentee grow in confidence and begin to reach some of their goals. I found it a bit nerve-wracking not necessarily knowing ahead of time what would come up in each session, and whether or not I would know what to say or have the ‘right’ answer. I overcame this by trying to be present in the moment and listen carefully, and I remind myself it’s okay if we don’t find the ‘answer’ together in a session – we might find a solution next time, or the time after, it’s a process.

What outcomes did you see for your mentee?

My mentee has grown in confidence and is more assertive, they have started a 2 year course which will positively impact their career progression.

Professional Services colleague, Grade 7, Female

Case Study Four - Mentee

Two people in a meetingMy experience of mentoring has been very positive so far. I didn’t really know what to expect from the scheme, I just had a feeling that I was cruising along in my career and perhaps needed to take more control over the direction in which it is going, and thought a mentor might help to give some clarity on how to do this.selected quotation from text

The first session involved a discussion about my broad career aspirations, my experience, and was helpful for us to get to know each other. I got some very useful tips on how to dedicate time to myself amongst the general chaos that is being a working mother. The other two sessions have focussed variously on my workload, office politics, how to delegate, supervision of staff, team dynamics and how to focus on the most interesting/valuable parts of your job, or those that need more ‘strategic thinking’.

Each time I meet my mentor I am amazed when the session ends that we have spent an hour in discussion, I usually feel quite nervous ahead of the sessions, and worry that I won’t have much to say, but then suddenly an hour has passed and we still have so much to discuss! Each session has been incredibly useful and rewarding, but I would say that the most important things I have got out of the scheme so far are the ability to focus on those aspects of my role which are most rewarding, and the ability to find time to take charge of my career path.

I would say to colleagues thinking about being mentored: Do it! But don’t go in to the process with rigid expectations of the outcomes – there should be a little flexibility to allow personalities to work with each other, and let discussion flow in order to make the most out of the sessions.

Clare Callow, Global Health Research Centre Project Manager, BSMS

Case Study Five - Mentee

I initially heard of the mentoring scheme at Sussex from looking on Organisational Development’s website. I was interested in the scheme because I Member of staff photowas looking for ways to progress in my career at the University and thought it might be good to talk with a more senior colleague about this. I had been mentored in the past at a previous workplace and had found it helpful to talk through my experiences and discuss different options that were open to me. I was hoping that a mentor would be able to help me understand how to progress within the HE sector and provide a space where I could explore my own professional narrative.

            I was apprehensive before I met my mentor for the first time, but soon felt very comfortable in her company. We focussed on what I was looking for in the mentor relationship and agreed some areas we could work on together. I made sure to write up notes of our discussions immediately afterwards, whilst they were fresh in my mind and noted agreed actions that we would both do before we next met. Meeting for 1 hour per month was not very much time out of my work-day and I was glad to have the support of my manager to take the time to reflect on my career path. We agreed to meet once per month for a year and I was reassured that I could email my mentor in-between sessions if I wanted to. Later on we discussed specific jobs that I was applying for, preparing for interviews, and debriefing afterwards together. It helped my confidence immensely to have someone to discuss the highs and lows of this process with; and I am very grateful to my mentor for her continued support, even after our mentoring relationship has officially come to an end.

            selected quote from text I was pleased to be offered a promotion within the University 6 months into being mentored. As my original goal of progression had been reached, the discussions in the remaining sessions focussed on transitioning between different roles and management styles. I was pleasantly surprised at how effective mentoring was for me and I think the main value in the relationship is having a professional friend who you can discuss challenges with in a confidential environment. I would absolutely recommend mentoring to other colleagues because the space to reflect upon your ambitions is so helpful. In fact, I was inspired to become a mentor myself and now aim to help others to progress and discuss whatever would be most beneficial for them at the time.

Sarah Johnson, Curriculum and Assessment Officer, LPS

Case Study Six - Mentee

Staff PhotoI joined the Staff Mentoring Programme at the University of Sussex predominantly to discuss my role and ambitions with a mentor who could offer a fresh perspective. 

As a member of staff at the Medical School (BSMS), it has been incredibly useful to have a mentor who understands my role but uses different software, systems and resources.  Not only has this helped me to find solutions in my own role day-to-day, it has also made me aware of things I didn't know existed before taking part in the scheme.  The Organisational Development team at the University of Sussex aim to match mentees and mentors based on job roles and experiences, and I'm impressed by how well they've delivered on that.selected quotation from text

Since our initial meeting, my mentor has been incredibly supportive and encouraging. She has also been a brilliant sounding board for ideas, giving me some really useful skills and ideas to consider, and I have been able to put some of these into practice in a short space of time.

I am thoroughly enjoying being a mentee on this scheme and would encourage anyone to take part - whether you are looking to discuss your barriers and ambitions, build on existing skills and knowledge or simply find a friendly companion who is willing to draw on their own career experiences in order to benefit your own.

Matt Bemment, Communications Assistant, BSMS

Case Study Seven - Mentee

I joined the mentoring programme only a few months after I had started my job as Communications Officer in the School of Psychology. As I was the only communications person in the School, I felt I would benefit from the advice of a more experienced colleague who could provide constructive feedback and a different perspective to my ideas. I specifically asked for someone who had experience working in communications. I knew I was taking a risk because there were many chances that none of the volunteering mentors met my requirement, but I also knew that somebody with that experience would be able to provide concrete feedback to my queries and I was prepared to wait until that person appeared.selected quote from text

Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long and the whole experience was very positive: I learnt a lot and I feel more confident about my own work as a result of the mentoring sessions. In general, we discussed career development (e.g. identifying skills that I should acquire to become better at my job) and specific projects I was working on. We met monthly, and I prepared a brief agenda for every session. As my School had not had a Communications Officer before me, I spent most of last academic year reviewing the School’s communications needs and setting up new processes. I used the sessions to discuss my ideas and get feedback. At the end of every meeting, I filled the report and wrote action points for me to do next. This helped me keep track of my progress.two colleagues in a meeting

Presenting my ideas about a particular project to my mentor forced me to reflect more on what I was doing and why. Her feedback was always very positive and constructive, and having these sessions made me feel more confident when I had to present the project to my line-manager and other stakeholders.

My mentor was also very supportive in terms of my development. She encouraged me to enrol in the Aspiring Managers course at the University, and I am currently doing an apprenticeship in digital marketing. In both cases, it was my manager who suggested the course, but my mentor’s support and advice were the final push I needed. She also helped me arrange a job shadowing experience with the External Relations team.

I would encourage any colleague to take part in the mentoring scheme, but I would also advise them to first think what they want to get out of it and what kind of mentor they need. They don’t need to be as specific as I was, but having an idea of what you are trying to achieve will help them and their mentors set short and long-term goals.

Mar Balboa Carbon, Communications Officer, Psychology

If you would like to join the mentoring scheme, either as a mentor or a mentee, please complete a registration form here and send to

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