Types of Mentoring for Today's Workplace

January 14, 2015

You may be considering implementing a mentoring program in your organization, or are even simply curious about its role in the workplace. No matter what or why your interest in mentoring, it’s important that you first understand there has been a shift in the definition of mentoring in the last ten years or so – and that mentoring is broader and more fluid development method than you think it is.

Today's workforce is complex, and sometimes demands other types of mentoring than the traditional one-to-one mentor/mentee relationship. Here are a few examples

New Mentoring Tradition, Familiar Mentoring Types

Traditional mentoring is often thought of as a one-to-one relationship between an older generation mentor and a less experienced and younger mentee. While this relationship still holds its place in mentoring today, the role of mentoring in the workplace has expanded to include a much wider range of learning opportunities:

  1. Distance Mentoring: Sometimes the most effective mentor or mentee is located elsewhere. Distance mentoring has evolved as a resourceful strategy that enables the mentee to find the perfect match no matter what the location of the mentor is. The immense surge of technology in the workplace has assisted this style of mentoring as most of the communication relies on electronic tools such as e-mail, audio/video-conferencing, etc. (Mentoring software can assist with distance mentoring - but is by no means limited to this mentoring type!)
  2. Situational Mentoring: In some cases, the mentoring relationship is used for a short time and an express purpose rather than as an overall developmental strategy. This approach enables the mentee to focus on their specific need without going through a more general procedure that would only slow down the learning process.
  3. Mentoring Circles: This format highlights a more fluid approach to mentoring. Rather than having a fixed mentor and mentee, mentoring circles encourage a cycling of information between all of the members. A combination of action learning, coaching and peer mentoring allows the participants to take turns being the mentor and the mentee, generating a wider source of support and inspiration.
  4. Group or Team Mentoring: This style of mentoring also moves away from the traditional one-on-one approach. Whether it involves one mentor in charge of multiple mentees or one mentee who has multiple mentors, group mentoring strengthens the ties between all of the participants involved. Although it is less structured than the formal one-on-one approach, group mentoring encourages a natural exchange of information through its team-based mentality.
  5. Peer Mentoring: This is a one-on-one approach to mentoring that focuses on an area of expertise and assigns the mentee to a more experienced peer who has a job at the same level. This relationship is not intended to be hierarchical but rather meant to encourage a reciprocal learning environment that promotes a sense of community.
  6. Reverse Mentoring: Here, the roles of traditional mentoring are reversed. A younger employee takes on the role of the mentor while the mentee is an older and often more experienced employee. This relationship closes the knowledge gap for both parties because it acts as a “two-way street”, encouraging the two parties to both teach and learn at the same time.

Types of Mentoring and Your Organization

This new approach to mentoring allows for a wider reach of possibilities in the learning and development of your employees. You may be looking to address a critical skills gap, promote effective on-boarding or enhance your diversity initiatives. Whatever your business goal is, mentoring has expanded its definition to encompass it.

Learn more about how mentoring software can support your mentoring program, no matter what type of mentoring you use.

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