What is mentoring?

Mentoring is about enhancing an individual staff member’s career development through a collaborative, knowledge-sharing relationship with another staff member who serves as their mentor. Mentoring provides career support and facilitates the transfer of knowledge and organizational culture.

Join OHR's Mentoring Pilot!

Go to the Mentoring Pilot page for more information. 

Benefits of participating in mentoring For mentors

  • The process of supporting a mentee in their career development  and aspirations can be personally and professionally rewarding;
  • Developing your mentoring skills can help you become a better manager/leader.
  • Sharing your passion and interests with your mentee.  
  • The opportunity to self-reflect on your professional accomplishments and lessons learned.

For mentees

  • Receive career support and feedback from a more experienced staff member;
  • The ability to focus on specific questions around your career;
  • Build a relationship that can help with career development. 
  • The opportunity to self-reflect on your career goals and challenges. 

Duration The duration of the mentoring relationship should be agreed between the mentor and mentee. Mentoring may take place in a specified number of meetings or on an ongoing, open ended basis. Good mentoring relationships may last a lifetime.

Scope Mentoring is possible:

  • within the same duty station
  • between different duty stations using skype, phone or email
  • between staff members at the same grade level or at a higher grade level
  • between staff members in different categories

Mentoring objectives Mentoring objectives should be agreed upon between mentee and mentor.

Agreement of confidentiality During mentoring, mentors and mentees may share personal and professional information that could be confidential. Unless explicitly agreed, participating staff members are expected to treat such information confidentially.

Tips for mentees
  • Clarify your goals and expectations before looking for a mentor
  • Be willing to share your hopes and concerns with your mentor
  • Be proactive in the relationship: it’s about your career
  • Prepare for each mentoring meeting
  • Follow up on agreed actions
  • Know what mentoring is not! It is not there to provide:
    • All the answers or a guaranteed path to success
    • Mediation between you and your manager
    • Psychological counselling
Tips for finding a mentor
  • Go through your network and think about whether any of your contacts could be a potential mentor
  • Ask your peers, team members or supervisor about suggestions for possible mentors; if they have someone in mind, ask them to introduce you
  • Search Unite Connections, LinkedIn or other professional networking platforms to find a colleague whose background and experience may be relevant and interesting to you
  • Once you have identified someone as a potential mentor, reach out to them to see if they are willing to discuss the possibility.  Do not be discouraged if the first person you ask is not available.
Tips for mentors
  • Consider becoming a mentor if you want to share your knowledge and experience, if you enjoy encouraging and motivating others, or if you want to contribute to someone else’s professional growth
  • Decide on how much effort you are able to put into mentoring: duration and frequency of meetings, availability between meetings
  • Think about whether you have any preference about whom you would like to mentor in terms of level or function
  • If someone you don’t know approaches you for mentoring, you may wish to have a preliminary discussion with them before committing to mentoring them
  • If necessary, you can always refer your mentee to a subject matter expert if they have questions outside your area of expertise
  • There is an online training on Inspira (“UN Mentor Training”) originally designed for the YPP mentoring programme, but also useful for staff members interested in becoming a mentor for other categories of staff.

Ideas for discussion  
  • Mentee’s skills and competencies
  • Mentee’s career goals and aspirations
  • Mentee’s strategies for reaching their career goals
  • Mentor’s career and career experiences
  • Mentor’s work/life strategies
  • Career paths in the UN
  • Learning opportunities in- and outside the UN
  • Job satisfaction
  • Mobility in the Organization
  • Mentee’s interests
  • Mentee’s values
  • Getting ahead in the Organization
  • Building positive working relationships
  • Networking
  • Fitting in at a new duty station
  • Stress management and resilience
  • Supervision and management techniques
  • Working effectively with people from different backgrounds

Sample mentoring meeting record template

Click here for a sample mentoring meeting record template, which you can customize as needed. This template might be useful if you who want to keep a record of mentoring meetings, or if you want some ideas for how to structure a mentoring meeting.