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Types of mentoring and why you should learn them

What types of mentoring are there for your needs? Are you mentee looking for the right mentor to achieve your goals? Or are you a mentor who wants to learn the ins and outs of mentoring? Perhaps, you’re a company wanting to start a mentoring program and learn what the options are and how to measure them.

As a mentorship platform with a thriving community of passionate people, at MentorCruise, we’ve seen how mentoring experiences can be fulfilling, insightful, helpful, and rewarding for both mentees and mentors.

Whatever your reasons are, mentors need to figure out the different types of mentoring to effectively relay their wisdom to mentees. By knowing about these different types, companies can create a great mentoring program with a significant return on investment. At the same time, mentees will acquire invaluable developmental support and get better at navigating through complex workplace challenges.

In this blog post, you’ll learn:

  • Why should you learn about the different types of mentoring
  • Why mentorship isn’t teaching or coaching
  • The different types of mentoring

Why should you learn about the different types of mentoring

Mentorship isn’t teaching or coaching

Mentors and mentees should know about two important things: what mentorship isn’t, and the different types of frameworks for mentorships to effectively assist mentees.

Mentoring is not coaching or teaching. As we’ve covered in our previous blog posts, coaching is a relationship based on helping the student achieve a goal through concrete steps. Teaching instructs students on a subject matter so that students can get great grades on exams.

Difference between mentor and teacher

Mentorships are based on guidance. Mentors teach mentees how to navigate through complex social situations and to succeed based on lived experiences, expertise, and wisdom.

Different types of mentoring frameworks to success

Mentorships can become even more effective when the mentoring relationship gets clearly defined and has set boundaries. And we define the different types of mentoring through program frameworks.

For example, there’s formal mentoring, which are structured programs set to match up mentors and mentees. There’s peer mentoring, in which colleagues provide advice, guidance, training and support to their mentees in similar professional situations. And so on. We’ll get through the most important ones in this blog post.

When mentors know about them, they can figure out how to guide the mentees through wisdom and expertise. Companies can accordingly structure their mentoring programs and be able to measure their success through these mentoring frameworks.

What are the types of mentoring?

Distance/virtual mentoring

Just because people aren’t in an office does not mean that mentorship isn’t possible. In fact, the mode of mentoring is of less importance in comparison to the outcome. Establishing trust between the mentor and the mentee all you need to get started on the path of developmental growth.

With the rise of remote working, employees will need help when it comes to onboarding, virtual communication etiquettes, and even how to be present during work hours.

In addition to that, virtual mentoring allows people coming from all four corners of the world to pursue a meaningful mentoring relationship. Distance is no longer a concern. We are closer to one another than we were ever before.

With the right tools and a bit of structure, virtual mentoring can allow talents from remote places to be nurtured and thrive, whatever their circumstances may be.

As a platform for virtual mentorships, at MentorCruise, we’ve rapidly realized the power of allowing people to get into mentorships online. Great mentoring relationships uplift mentees and help them get through difficult situations. We have a blog post on how great mentorships have helped our mentees succeed.

Finally, virtual mentoring coincides with the other types of mentoring mentioned later. This is just a type of mentorship done online. But it is also a type of mentoring that companies can use to scale up their mentoring processes relatively quickly.

How? Because organizing virtual mentoring sessions is typically easier than booking rooms and coordinating so many people’s schedules at once to make non-virtual mentorship work. Mentors and mentees can even easily organize these themselves. The key ingredients behind the success of virtual mentoring are forming a relationship through trust, being empathetic, and communicating well.

Formal and informal mentoring

Formal mentoring is the type of mentoring most people are probably familiar with. These are formal programs set up that match mentors and mentees together. There’s typically a certain format to adhere to, regular meetings, and some ways to concretely track the progress and career development of the mentees.

Formal mentoring has:

  • A specific objective.
  • Measurable outcomes.
  • A time constraint (the number of sessions will be agreed upon beforehand.)
  • Targets that match with the organization’s core values.

On the other end, there’s informal mentoring, in which either the mentee or mentor initiates a mentoring relationship. This type of mentoring is more organic and normally occurs when there’s already a friendship between those involved.

Informal mentoring is more casual.

Informal mentors:

  • Are great listeners.
  • Don’t usually set restrictions as to the time of each “session”.
  • Can be selected according to your liking (since there is no formal contract).
  • Do not provide expert training and/or have specific goals (a few downsides).

Mentees, on the other hand, can:

  • Get comfortable (it is like you are talking to a friend).
  • Converse on any topic (informal mentoring has no formal structure).
  • Share their personal stories (with details that would be left out if they were communicating with an industry professional.)

Peer mentoring

Peer mentoring happens when colleagues that might be similar in age or job level mentor each other. The purpose of this is to create a formal support system and hold colleagues accountable for their professional goals and objectives. In simple words, it is a relationship in which colleagues can learn from one another and offer advice based on their past experiences.

This type of mentoring can provide guidance, empathy, and training to the colleagues involved. Because of being in similar positions, these colleagues may take turns in being mentors and mentees. The mentor is usually someone who has relatively more experience working in the company. The mentee is the newcomer at the workplace.

It is important to note that the peer mentor may not have as much experience as the other types of mentors. However, they can listen to the problems of the mentees in great detail, relate to what the mentee is going through, and provide support/advice from a personal level.

To understand better, let’s imagine, your workplace has a toxic culture. It might be normal to stay at the office after work hours even if your work has finished. You are looking to get out of this situation and feel like discussing it with someone.

In this case, a peer mentor may be able to understand and relate to the situation better in comparison to a mentor that is from an external organization.

Group and team mentoring

Group mentoring is a type of mentoring that involves one mentor working with several mentees in a group. Through this, regular mentorship meetings are set to discuss certain topics that are relevant to the mentees in the group. In particular, group mentoring can allow mentors and mentees to understand each other’s struggles and concerns.

Team mentoring happens when a team of mentors systematically pursues a mentoring relationship with groups of mentees to help the latter on different obstacles and areas of concern affecting these mentees. As with group mentoring, this type of mentoring can encourage collaboration and better working relationships between mentees themselves.

These two types of mentoring have been traditionally difficult to organize, especially when these mentorships can involve one-to-one and group sessions. But with MentorCruise, you can take your group and team mentoring programs online with the best experts out there.

Identity-based mentoring

Identity-based mentoring has grown in popularity in recent years after companies have realized that their employees who come from diverse backgrounds felt as if their needs were not being met, within a structure that doesn’t allow minority voices to be heard.

This type of mentoring involves pairing up mentors with mentees who may come from similar backgrounds. This mentoring relationship may involve a woman of color in a more senior leadership role teaching another woman of color how to survive within the tech industry. Or it may involve group mentoring sessions for LGTBQ+ folks.

Now, this may be the most important type of mentoring for those who are minorities and are looking for ways to grow and get heard within their companies. According to Mckinsey & Company, ethnically and gender diverse organizations were respectively 35% and 15% more likely to get above-average returns on investment.

Offering this type of mentoring program will help employees succeed and allow companies to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.

Traditional mentoring

The traditional mentor is someone who has been with the company for a long time and has a lot of experience - usually someone in a management position. The job of a traditional mentor is to help new employees learn the ropes and adjust to company culture.

A traditional mentor is usually a senior individual who does 1-on-1 counseling. The mentee is:

  • Given uninterrupted attention (improves employee engagement).
  • Given tips for career development (helps in the growth of employees).
  • Held accountable (can be assigned certain tasks such as reading a book).
  • Taught how to manage time (employees’ work-life balance improves).

Traditional mentoring presents a good opportunity for reverse mentoring. Junior team members will have some work-related skills/knowledge that senior professionals are not aware of. So, it creates a healthy, learning environment.

However, a drawback of traditional mentoring is that it can get difficult to scale - a lot of human resource is required. In other words, this model is unsustainable as the company grows. As a result of opting for traditional mentoring, employees might not get equal treatment.

Subject-Matter-Expert mentoring

The subject-matter-expert mentor, as the name suggests, is someone who is an expert in a specific area. They may not have a lot of experience with the company they are working at currently, but they have a wealth of knowledge in their field.

The main aim of subject-matter-expert mentors is to:

  • Upskill the mentees.
  • Help employees with specific questions or problems they may have.
  • Understand the needs of the mentees and share relevant information with them.
  • Encourage mentees to become subject matter experts like themselves.

Due to their expertise and years of experience in the niche, they are also better connected to other similar professionals. They can help mentees connect with different experts in the field. Mentees can get expert help in different areas such as marketing, entrepreneurship, careers etc.

What type of mentoring program do you want to establish

In this blog post, you’ve learned about the different types of mentoring and how each one can help achieve different types of goals for your mentorship programs. Let’s quickly discuss the effectiveness of each type of mentoring.

In the contemporary digital era, distance/virtual mentoring is becoming the norm. Mentees can easily decide which experts they want to connect with and which area(s) they require mentoring in. They can get insights from industry veterans, learn skills that are in high demand and grow as a professional.

Formal mentoring can be effective if companies want to follow a fixed format with set objectives. Conversely, informal mentoring can be established if the desired outcomes will not be measured. Both formal and informal mentoring programs are scalable, so the program can be replicated company-wide and across various offices.

\ Peer mentoring should be encouraged in workplaces as it helps in team-building. Employees will know that they have supportive peers who would help them whenever a problem arises. This type of program will keep employees motivated.

If companies wish to do counseling for a number of employees at once, they can opt for group mentoring (one mentor and several mentees). They can also select team mentoring (a number of mentors and several mentees). Team mentoring is more expensive in comparison to group mentoring.

Many companies advertise diversity inclusion as a key quality of their workplace. If companies wish to appreciate the fact that people come from various backgrounds, they can choose identity-based mentoring.

Traditional mentors focus on bringing out the best in specific individuals. However, due to the costly nature of traditional mentoring, this program is feasible if it is established in small companies or startups.

Subject-matter-expert mentoring programs can be a good investment if companies want their existing employees to become industry experts (instead of hiring experts). It can only prove to be effective if employees are certain that they will stick to the same career path in the long-run.

All in all, it can be said that a one-size-fits-all approach to mentorship doesn’t work. Sometimes, a one-to-one formal mentorship may be too specific. Other times, a Black American hire might not feel as if their needs are being met by having a white mentor.

Whatever the type of mentoring you might need, at MentorCruise, mentors on the platform are vetted, experienced, and continuously evaluated. If you want to have a go at virtual mentoring that caters to your specific needs, try it today.

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