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Durham University

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Coaching and mentoring

Coaching and Mentoring at Durham

There is a distinct difference between Mentoring and Coaching although at Durham University, these approaches have been used within the same 'relationship'.

Please see below for the many approaches to Coaching and Mentoring at Durham that you may wish to participate in. To find out more on each of the approaches, click on the links below. If you require further information, please contact Claire Hunter at #41649 or

Coaching at Durham

According to Megginson (2012),“The coach encourages people to reach their full potential by encouraging self-belief and self-development. Self-belief gives people the drive to achieve their potential. Self-development gives them the means.”

Therefore the coach does not need to have knowledge of the specific job role of the coachee but encourages deeper thought and reflection from their coachee by appropriate questioning and listening.

Both approaches are based upon a confidential, professional relationship being formed between the two individuals with minimal involvement from a third party (eg coaching/mentoring coordinator, line manager etc).

Coaching Approaches at Durham

  • External Coaching Framework
    This coaching approach is accessed by senior professional and academic staff who are supported by professionally accredited coaches who are external to the organisation. As Aldred (1998) defined it, “a coach does not need direct experience of the client’s formal occupational role and tends to focus on developmental or work issues.” This is the accepted practice within the coaching framework that has been established at this institution.
  • In-house Coaching
    We have an in-house coaching network across the University, similar to that adopted by many other HE institutions consisting of internal members of staff who who have completed Institute of Leadership and Management development in coaching and form a 'bank of in-house coaches' who want to assist individuals to reach their full potential.

Mentoring at Durham

The University Mentoring Policy for 2010 defines mentoring as “an informal and supportive relationship whereby a more experienced member of staff undertakes to help a new member of staff to learn his/her job and understand its context within the University.”

Therefore, the mentor is usually someone who has experience of the job that their mentee is working within and is able and willing to share their knowledge and skills to help that individual or to signpost them to appropriate sources of support.

Mentoring Approaches at Durham

  • Academic Mentoring
    A new academic mentoring policy has been introduced. Please click here to access.
  • Mentoring as a “Buddy System”
    All new members of staff are allocated a mentor when they join the University. In practice this is more like a “buddy” system whereby a more experienced member of staff explains to a new recruit the day-to-day practices and procedures of the department, rather than mentoring, which would also involve personal skills development.
  • Academic Probation Mentoring
    This mentoring approach is specifically designed to support a new academic member of staff through their formal employment probation period. This mentor’s role is described as “someone who is able to advise, encourage, support, and help to develop an individual’s ability to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own professional development.” (Dr Stan Taylor [2010], Durham University mentoring website).
  • Academic Research Mentors
    Academic Research mentors act in a similar way to the above; however, they have a particular expertise and interest in the same area of research as the more junior academic member of staff, and so are able to assist specifically with the broadening of their research potential.
  • Informal “Peer Pal” Mentoring as Defined by Shapiro et al. (1978)
    This form of mentoring occurs informally and with no specific interventions from the HE institution, department, or faculty. Individuals identify colleagues whom they believe would assist them in their academic endeavours and thus enhance the academic community collegial culture.
  • Women in Academia Mentoring Programme
    Durham University has initiated a variety of activities with the intent to challenge the status quo and influence cultural change at the institution to create a more diverse leadership model. A specific 'Women in Academia Mentoring Programme' is being piloted and an in-house coaching network has been developed providing 1:1 support. For more information, go