When you think of a mentoring program, what comes to your mind? Perhaps you think of a traditional, one on one mentoring approach. This is a common mentoring model. However, mentoring programs can come in a variety of forms.
The mentoring models a company chooses to institute will depend on a few different factors. These include:
- How big your organization is
- How much mentoring you want to have
- Who will participate in the mentoring programs
- The results you are looking for
This article outlines 5 different kinds of mentoring models. The article will also show you how to introduce each model into the workplace and how it can help your company reach its goals.
Regardless of the model you choose, mentoring models change and grow with a company over time. If you have a model your company has been implementing for years, it may well be the case that it needs some reassessing to meet the needs of your company now.
If that is the case, don’t despair. Many of the models listed in this article are easy to integrate into the mentoring programs you already have in place.
The Difference Between Formal and Informal Mentoring
An informal mentoring relationship is constantly changing and growing, like a friendship. Actually, friends, family, and colleagues can all be informal mentors. When people are looking for advice, those are the people they first go to for help.
In informal settings, a mentoring relationship is less structured. This type of mentoring can happen over a short period of time, but longer-term informal mentoring relationships eventually adopt some kind of structure.
Here are a few examples of both:
- natural mentors: young people are exposed to people who act as mentors in their natural environment (e.g. community volunteers or even their school bus drivers);
- content mentors: young people have brief, instructional interaction with a person they trust and look up to (e.g., guest speakers);
- program mentors: young ones are introduced to mentors through a structured program (e.g., school clubs or summer camp).
On the other hand, a formal mentoring relationship is more organized. People are matched with mentors that can help them meet a specific goal or acquire specific skills. This kind of mentoring program tends to be fairer and includes more people. This is because mentoring isn’t left up to chance.
This article will focus on formal mentoring programs.
This is the most traditional style of a mentoring program. One mentor, usually a senior employee, is paired with one mentee. Then a manager monitors their progress for 9 months to a year.
Each match is usually made with a lot of thought and care. The program participants are carefully selected based on specific criteria. This might include their experience level, personality, and goals. Of course, there are also other factors that come into play.
Because this is a well-known model, people feel comfortable with it. One-on-one mentoring programs allow the mentor and mentee to develop a close personal relationship. In this model, the mentee gets direct attention and support from both the mentor and the program manager.
Here are a few examples of this kind of program:
The human resources department may assign a manager to coach a new employee on the company’s procedures and policies.
A senior engineer mentors a junior engineer on the best and safest practices for their work.
This also works well if a company wants to give specialized training and attention to certain employees. They may choose to give one-on-one mentoring to employees who show leadership skills. They may also offer this kind of mentoring to workers with exceptional skills or a certain group with the goal of promoting diversity.
In this model, one mentor works with several mentees at a time. This is a great option if you want or need to carry out a large-scale mentoring program but lack mentors. A bonus effect of this kind of mentoring model is that mentees get to learn from each other as well.
Group mentoring models work best if each mentor has no more than 4-6 mentees working under their supervision at a time. The whole group meets together every 2-4 weeks to discuss their progress. This model combines the best of peer mentoring and senior mentoring. Each member of the program comes together to help each other learn.
One drawback of this style of mentoring is how hard it can be to coordinate schedules for the meetings. In addition, mentees don’t get the same level of personal attention they would in one on one mentoring. To meet this challenge, some companies assign mentors to work with a specific mentee. Then all mentees and mentors check in with a senior executive from time to time to share their experiences. This way the mentees get the benefits of both styles of mentoring.
To recap, here are the three styles of group mentoring:
- One mentor works with several mentees
- Multiple mentors and mentees work together
- Peer mentoring
Here are a few examples:
One mentor with several mentees: A senior executive mentors several employees with a lot of potential.
Multiple mentors and mentees: A group of employees at different levels of experience in the organization mentor each other.
In this model, the mentor and the mentee are at very similar levels of experience. One example of this is known as”onboarding”. This refers to when recently hired employees mentor new employees.
In peer mentoring, each person might take turns in the roles of mentor and mentee. The end goal of this kind of mentoring model is to allow each person to learn from the other and to share experiences. Working together helps them hold each other accountable, which helps them keep growing.
This kind of mentoring model works well for a targeted program. This might include support for new parents just coming back to work, or for onboarding programs. It also gives employees a chance to develop leadership skills by practicing with their peers.
Here are some examples of how this could be applied in the workplace:
Two junior engineers mentor each other. Their shared expertise helps them discover the best practices for their work.
Two or more mid-level managers are paired up to talk about leadership and share ideas on how to help their teams to grow.
This is a unique kind of mentoring model. Reverse mentoring refers to when a more senior person at the company is paired with a younger employee. The goal is to share information, foster transparency, and encourage collaboration with others.
Some companies have noted tension between different generations working in the same environment. Often, this is caused by preconceived ideas and misconceptions about each generation. Reverse mentoring helps break down those barriers. As a result, employees of all age groups and experience levels work better with each other.
What would some examples of reverse mentoring look like? For example:
An employee who is comfortable using social media mentors an older team member on how to use Facebook, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn for the business.
A new college graduate mentors a senior manager on the latest mobile apps that could be useful for the company.
As you can guess, flash mentoring is a short-term, faster style of mentoring. Its purpose is to teach a skill or key piece of information.
Flash mentoring is quicker than traditional mentoring. As a result, it allows people to learn without the commitment of a long-term mentoring program. It can also be combined with other mentoring styles. A company may decide to combine flash mentoring with group mentoring in order to share a particular skill with more employees.
It can also be used to let new mentors and mentees get their feet wet, so to speak. This kind of mentoring can be used as a trial run, or help mentors and mentees broaden their horizons before they commit to a mentorship.
A new employee goes to a senior person in the company for help with a task they aren’t familiar with.
A student meets with a professor to talk about an upcoming assignment or project.
This kind of mentoring involves multiple mentors and mentees working together. Unlike group mentoring, team mentoring usually includes several mentors working with the group at a time.
This style of mentoring is a great way to encourage inclusion and diversity. It provides a comfortable, safe environment for people with different perspectives and opinions to work together and learn from each other.
This type of mentoring also helps eliminate any possibility of favoritism. Instead, team mentoring promotes teamwork as everyone tackles challenges together.
This type of mentoring has a more flexible application than the others. In some cases, it may involve multiple mentors working with multiple mentees as a team. In other cases, it may be that one mentor is available to multiple mentees who also support each other through peer mentoring.
Which Mentoring Models Are Best?
All kinds of mentoring are beneficial. But each one offers different benefits to an organization. Each style of mentoring serves a different purpose.
The kind of mentoring model you choose will depend on the goals, values, and culture of your organization. Decide in advance what you want to o accomplish. Think about who the program involves in your organization and what they want to gain.
It might take some time and effort to figure out which mentoring models will work best for you. You might find that there are several kinds of mentoring programs that will be a good fit for your organization.
If you enjoyed reading this article about mentoring models, you should read these as well:
- Key Steps in a Good Mentoring Process (Must Know)
- How to Start a Mentoring Program In a Few Steps
- The Top Mentoring Best Practices that Guarantee a Success