Types of mentoring and why you should learn them

Published Aug. 29, 2020

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.

Types of mentoring and why you should learn 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.

As with the rise of remote working and in these so-called unprecedented times, virtual mentoring allows people coming from all four corners of the world to pursue a meaningful mentoring relationship.

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 are typically easier than booking rooms and coordinating so many people’s schedules at once to make non-virtual mentorship to work. Mentors and mentees can even easily organize these themselves!

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’.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.