Guidance for Mentors

Mentoring for the ARA professional development programme

Guidance for Mentors

Mentoring provides valuable support to candidates looking to qualify as a Foundation or Registered member. Mentoring also supports the mentor with their own professional development, as effective mentoring develops and maintains an important range of skills and abilities.

The ARA’s revised mentor guidance is essential reading for new and existing mentors, as well as those interested in becoming a mentor. We hope this article will inspire more members to become a mentor.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps guide the learning and development of a less experienced or knowledgeable person.  Mentors are a critical friend, helping their mentees get the most out of their experiential learning.

Mentoring is just one of the many vital voluntary roles that members undertake to support the work of the ARA. By becoming a mentor, you actively help shape the next generation of archive, records management and conservator professionals as they progress towards Foundation and Registered membership.

Getting started

Members enrolling onto the ARA’s professional development programme are encouraged to identify their own mentor. This can help them developing their own network by connecting with more experienced professionals. Candidates might approach a colleague who they know professionally, or via an ARA Nation, Region or Section. So if you’re interested in mentoring, one option for would-be mentors is to make your interests known at your place of work and through your own professional contacts. We recommend that where possible candidates look beyond their own line manager.

For those keen to mentor but unable to find a mentee, you have the option of joining the ARA’s list of mentors. The list is sent to enrolling candidates who do not have a mentor in place. No prior experience is required to join the list, but we ask that you familiarise yourself with the ARA’s mentoring guide, competency framework and professional development programme.

The mentoring process

The first meeting is a key part of the mentoring relationship. Mentors and mentees do not need to be based in the same location, as mentoring can be provided via Skype and phone. However, some mentors prefer actual meetings, so it is a matter for you and your mentee to decide. The first meeting should discuss the outcomes of the candidate’s self-assessment using the competency framework. Your mentee’s choice of competencies will determine the length and scope of any development required. “you might also want to discuss the role of mentoring, how often you want to meet, the best ways to communicate and levels of confidentiality” explained ARA mentor Janice Tullock RMARA. “Work and family commitments mean the planning of meetings in advance is vital.  I also find it useful to be very clear about your level of time commitment to the relationship from the start.” Once you have agreed a mentoring plan with your candidate, you both have an agreed way forward.

The benefits to you

Mentoring is also beneficial to the mentor as it offers you an opportunity to further develop your supervisory, motivational, advisory and problem solving skills. You’ll also gain new insights from your mentee, and learning of new initiatives and practices which help broaden your own perspectives. “The experience needs not be onerous at all, just so long as you remember that your role is to guide and oversee and not to undertake the work yourself!” advises Penny Hutchins RMARA. “Mentoring can definitely be a focus for your passion in the profession”.

For further information on becoming a mentor please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The ARA’s Guidance for Mentors publication is available from the programme website.


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