Organisational Development

Structure and format of mentoring

There are a variety of ways that you can structure and format mentoring schemes and individual sessions.

Types of mentoring scheme

Mentoring can take many forms. See below for more information about different types of schemes and their pros and cons.  

Internal schemes

In an internal mentoring scheme all participants are from the same school or department. This means that they are very familiar with the work context, but that can also make it more challenging to avoid overlap of the mentoring with other professional interactions.

Internal schemes at University of Sussex:

  • for researchers 
  • for Sussex library staff 
  • for academics: Speak with your school office to find out if your school has mentoring arrangements in place.
External schemes

External schemes tend to be organised by professional bodies. They are an excellent way of getting a more independent perspective on the mentee’s career and provide useful additional networking.

Given their external nature, there may be more logistical challenges in the mentoring, although much can be done by phone or Skype.

Examples of external schemes (follow the links for more information):

University of Sussex staff are encouraged to take up any relevant external schemes.

One-to-one mentoring

One-to-one mentoring schemes pair a single mentee with a single mentor. Their agenda will be led by the needs of the mentee and the practical arrangements for meeting can be more flexible as there are only two people to consider.

Group mentoring

Group mentoring involves more than one mentee at a time and sometimes more than one mentor. Working in a group allows mentees to network as well as to support each other with common issues. Group sessions work best with a calendar of meeting dates set in advance and often have a theme for each meeting.

See the Mentoring for Researchers section of the University of Sussex website for examples of the ways that themes can be used.

Types of mentoring relationship

Successful mentoring relationships aren't limited to junior staff mentored by senior staff. See below for more information about mentoring relationships.

Junior staff mentored by senior staff

Traditionally, the most common mentoring relationships were between a senior member of staff and a junior member of staff, with the senior member of staff providing guidance. This arrangement accords with the view that a more senior mentor is likely to have successfully navigated some of the challenges facing the mentee.

Increasingly it is understood that mentoring is most useful with a skilled mentor who helps the mentee outline their own challenges and options rather than recommending a particular pathway. This insight has led to a decrease in the popularity of this variety of mentoring.

Peer mentoring

Peer mentoring is a supportive relationship between staff of the same grade or role. Peer mentors often face the same challenges as their mentees so may be able empathise and provide current information.

Shared experience in mentoring arrangements

Depending on the requirements of the mentee, it is not necessary for a mentor to come from the same department, discipline or role. It is often the case that perspectives brought from a different working environment can be of significant benefit to the mentee.

The key aspect of any mentoring relationship is shared experience. This might be related to career path, aspirations, discipline, job role, or identity based (e.g. a BME staff member who would like mentoring from a BME mentor).

Next steps

Contact us

Organisational Development
Human Resources
Sussex House
T 01273 606755 ext 4806

Dr Raquel Arribas on the benefits of mentoring circles

Mentoring scheme coordinators


Sally Faith, Head of Library Frontline, Planning & Support Services,, ext 7833


Sue Chapman, Finance Training and Development Manager,, ext 6604



Jenny Holmes, Project Officer (Athena Swan),, 01273 641229