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CTR Mentoring Training – Reflections and Plans for 2024

14 November 2023

Authors: Monica Busse and Sue Channon

Over the last year we have designed and delivered a series of “introduction to mentoring” training sessions  across the Centre for Trials Research (CTR) and have been reflecting on how it has gone and planning how mentoring training in CTR might look in 2024.

Firstly we want to say thank-you to everyone who has taken part in the sessions and also given us feedback – it has been a really enjoyable and rewarding training to deliver and we hope you have found it helpful.

We wanted to set up the sessions as we know that a lot of the CTR team across all the resource groups take on a mentoring role, sometimes formally but often informally, offering guidance and support to someone less experienced in a particular area. We also launched two schemes this year which involve CTR staff supporting others in finding out more about our work in the Centre: the Trial Governance Placement (TGP) scheme and the Treialon Cymru Associate scheme. Given all this activity, we thought it might help to have an in-house version of mentoring training that people could access.

We ran the training across two 2-hour workshops on Teams and included content covering mentoring principles and frameworks, evidence for mentoring as a personal development approach, similarities and differences between mentoring, coaching and line management, the steps and some logistics of the mentoring relationship, good mentoring practice and some skills practice.  The first pair of sessions were in March then we ran it again in June and October. A total of 43 people attended the training, with each of the sessions delivered slightly differently as we adapted to address feedback from attendees.

In the first two blocks, we offered the opportunity for attendees to complete an Insights Discovery Preference Online Evaluator that can be used to help people consider their preferred style of thinking, working, and interacting in such a way as to facilitate their future mentoring relationships. Whilst people seemed to appreciate this aspect of the training we recognised that this level of information might be better as part of a one-to-one discussion rather than being a focus within a group based session.  In later sessions, we chose not to offer the Insights Profiles but instead focussed on more general descriptions of personal styles and how this might impact on team process and the mentoring relationship.

Other feedback resulted in us giving a bit more direction before the training in order to make the most of the skills training in breakout rooms and we also added examples of questions to use.  People who were not able to make both sessions asked if they could view a recording of session 1 in order that they could attend session 2, so we tried offering a recorded session 1 in block 3 for some people. Generally, this was felt to be helpful and one unplanned benefit was that it also gave attendees a chance to review the session again in their own time, which they felt would help for any content that was difficult to absorb first time round.

We asked what support people would like CTR to provide to help them develop their mentoring practice. The majority of respondents said that they would welcome more sessions and in particular an opportunity to practice the skills: Suggestions included smaller support circles, ongoing ‘Q and A’ type sessions on mentoring, further skills-focussed sessions with ‘top-up’ on the information, sessions focussed on ‘active listening’ generally, face to face training and role play demonstrations of skills.  Raising mentoring in the PDR was mentioned and one respondent suggested we link more with the mentoring training with the University.

Based on the feedback, the plan for 2024 is to offer both introductory and skills development sessions: We are going to test out interest in these sessions being delivered face to face so that will be the approach for both types of session.

  • 2 Introductory training sessions per year, open to all staff in CTR. This will be a 2 hour in-person session offering a condensed version of the training developed this year and include signposting to the resources within Cardiff University, Health and Care Research Wales and the Future Leaders Fellowship mentoring scheme.
  • Ongoing Mentoring support: This will be for those who are looking to develop their mentoring skills and who are mentoring within CTR (either formally or informally – as long as people are mentoring in work in some capacity).

We will run face to face sessions combining problem-solving and skills practice, based on the European Mentoring and Coaching Framework and the GROW model discussed in the introductory training.  We plan to offer three sessions in the first half of the year to see if this is something people are interested in attending. We will ask people to sign up for the sessions which will have a maximum of eight people with two facilitators. We will use an Action Learning Set approach to problem-solve aspects of mentoring that people have found challenging.

We hope these ideas sound like a good way forward to you. We will sort out some dates and advertise those to our staff internally via Yammer and the Newsletter. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts about mentoring please let us know.

Monica ( and Sue (