Archives for posts with tag: coaching

This is a guest post from Dr Michael Trikic (@MichaelTrikic), Thesis Mentor and Technical Team Leader in the Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering Education (you can read about Michael’s teaching role in Engineering here).

Reflections Picture1.jpgA recent job application and interview caused me to reflect on my career and working life. As part of this I considered mentoring: my mentors and mentees, and informal and formal mentoring including Thesis Mentoring, v i s t a, career mentoring and the GROW mentoring schemes. I concluded that mentoring has been instrumental for me getting to where I am now – doing work I enjoy and want to do. But how? Read the rest of this entry »

Happy National Mentoring Day! #mentoringrocks #nationalmentoringday #fortheloveofmentoring

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I always think of, and describe my work designing and consulting on academic mentoring programmes as ‘connecting people together to talk about the things that really matter to them’. This is what I hold as the core of what I do. I make professional connections for a living, and to me, it’s important to get it right. Read the rest of this entry »

My work in designing mentoring programmes naturally covers mentor ‘training’. I’ve been at it again this morning, meeting one of my groups incoming onto the September to March Researcher Mentoring Programme.

Actually I prefer to say mentor development, because training is too directive a notion to be a good way of describing how we use workshops to get to grips with the practices of mentoring — which is itself a very non-directive activity. As with all types of learning & teaching, there’s not a ‘right way’ to do mentoring, each mentor chooses their own approach, style and practices, and applies them in different situations and contexts. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a guest post from Charlotte Turnbull, Coaching & Mentoring Consultant

mortar board image.pngThe 14th November 2016 was a great day. I graduated from my MSc in Coaching & Mentoring from Sheffield Hallam University. Having worked in the HE sector for almost 25 years in HR and development roles across both universities in Sheffield, it was great to be in the audience this time rather than the platform party. But another change had also occurred. My dissertation research into the role of mentoring within a women’s leadership development scheme had led me to a series of powerful realisations around the role of mentoring and mentors within the development of leaders. Read the rest of this entry »


I teach professional practices in coaching and mentoring* in an education context and have developed some short workshops for academic supervisors and principal investigators that focus on the relational aspects of research leadership and use coaching techniques as the basis for conversations that help people develop their thinking and understanding.

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As the build up increases to the Paralympics, Channel 4 have launched a trailer called, ‘We’re the Superhumans’ which is receiving a lot of positive press and has even been described as the “best TV trailer ever”. It is great in so many ways; uplifting, insightful, educational and inspiring, it really shows what people can achieve. But one aspect of it left me feeling very frustrated. Throughout the trailer people are singing, saying or signing the words “yes I can” but at 2 minutes 15 seconds the shot goes to an office with a ‘careers’ sign on the door and a man is his 50s, wearing a grey suit, is talking to a schoolboy who is a wheelchair user and saying, “no you can’t”. It only lasts a couple of seconds and then returns to the previous, positivity but the message is very clear. Careers advisers will tell you what to do, or more likely, what you can’t do, they’ll judge you and will ultimately trample all over your dreams and aspirations. Don’t take my word for it, have a look yourself. But do come back and read the rest of this post! Read the rest of this entry »

Mentoring, is often used to target career progression for academic women — but could furthering this agenda include mentoring men?

I’ve been thinking recently about a mentoring programme which involves senior academic women mentoring more junior academic men. I’ve been considering if and how this could not only provide senior women with coaching and mentoring expertise useful to them in advancing their own careers, but also provide new male academics with the benefits that come from being mentored by women in senior positions. Bear with me…yes there are short term individual benefits to those new lecturers, but more importantly I think there could also be systemic or structural benefits here that in the long term help more women advance into senior positions. Read the rest of this entry »

Often I’m asked what mentoring can actually achieve.“OK, I get that it’s nice” (they say) “But it’s just a chat right? What can talking to someone do that I can’t do on my own?”

Actually a lot. Like bringing in more objectivity, creating bigger picture thinking, supporting creativity in problem solving, spotting unhelpful patterns of thinking or behaviour, benchmarking in new areas of work,  hearing yourself think out loud, providing reassurance and sense checking, breaking large tasks into manageable chunks…and actually it helps you carve out time for the things you never get round to if you try to do it on your own.

That’s what I think, but what do the researchers who’ve worked with a mentor think? Below are some posters I’ve recently pulled together that capture overview data from two of the mentoring programmes I designed for researchers: research staff mentoring and thesis mentoring. Take a look, there’s a case study at the end of this post too.

Thesis Mentoring Overview (click to get PDF)

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Research Staff Mentoring Overview (click to get PDF)

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A mentoring case study | 2015 mentee | male | engineer

I approached the mentoring programme for help to form a career plan and get my work back onto a productive track.  The reasons for approaching the mentoring programme for this help were to glean impartial advice from someone outside of my department who had experience in different institutions prior to their time in Sheffield.  These were important points for me.  It was essential to be able to have frank confidential conversations safe in the knowledge that nothing would reach my department.  I also wanted perspectives of working elsewhere in Higher Education to help me consider my future options.

With my mentor, we discussed the wider Higher Education landscape in the UK and the nuances of our faculty in Sheffield.  This was a comforting experience, as it helped clarify my opinions for remaining working in Higher Education and where the sector may be heading in the future, with someone more experienced than myself and willing to share their outside opinion.  Additionally, I worked with my mentor to form a strategy to maximise my opportunities in Sheffield in the near-term. 

Knowing that I’d sanity-checked and agreed a plan with my mentor has encouraged me to abide by it more closely than may have been the case otherwise. 

Overall, the mentoring programme has given me more confidence in my approach to working at Sheffield and helped me produce a career plan for the future in the short-term.  I feel in a much stronger position for having gone through the scheme and it has made me more content with working in my department.

The scheme has some particularly strong points.  I found the fact that mentors as well as mentees had voluntarily entered the scheme a tremendously positive concept, because it meant that both parties wanted to be in the discussion.  Having a mentor outside of my department also ensured there was no hidden agenda behind the discussions or fear of any information being used by my department at a later date.

rmpOur early career Research Staff Mentoring programme has been running for 5 years now. Having trained about 150 academic volunteers in mentoring techniques and ethical practice, and having seen more than 500 pairs come through the scheme, I’ve learned a lot about the power of dialogue in supporting planning for research careers. Taking a research-led approach has helped craft a programme of value to the primary learners, the early career researcher mentees. But there’s wider listening to be done to fully embed a mentoring culture across the university – a successful mentoring programme has to align with existing structures and cultures, not circumnavigate them or try to replace them.

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