Comparison of the types of mentoring programs

Mentoring Programs for the Workplace

Mentoring relationships are mutually beneficial, meaning they benefit both mentors and mentees. When both parties develop simultaneously, your entire organization benefits overall. Organizational benefits of mentoring can include increase employee retention, higher employee engagement, and even better company culture

This makes mentoring a great addition to talent development programs. However, there are several different types of mentoring, and each has its own benefits.

Here are a few types of mentoring for today’s workplace.

Traditional Mentoring

Traditional mentoring involves a mentor and mentee meeting one-on-one and face-to-face at regular intervals. It can also involve a senior-level individual mentoring a junior-level individual with a focus on whatever the mentee’s wants. This can include personal development, work-life balance problems, or career development.

Traditional mentoring provides uninterrupted mentoring sessions with few distractions. It also gives the mentee a high level of accountability, because they frequently meet with the same mentor. The dynamic this type of mentoring creates is a tried-and-true professional development model that can be easily implemented. 

The benefits of traditional mentoring include:

  • Increase employee engagement
  • A great base for talent development
  • Promote knowledge sharing


Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring is a lot like traditional mentoring, with one-on-one sessions scheduled at regular intervals. The difference is that the junior-level individual mentors the senior-level individual. 

This may seem counterintuitive. However, there are times when a junior-level individual has specific knowledge that a senior-level individual does not have. This can include technology usage, new techniques, and different perspectives.

As the younger employee is usually the mentor in this relationship, reverse mentoring is especially popular with millennials. It gives them an opportunity to have their ideas heard and opens a much larger network to them. This makes reverse mentoring a great way to retain millennial employees.

The benefits of reverse mentoring include:

  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Millennial retention
  • Knowledge sharing from new perspectives
  • Increased employee engagement


Career and Leadership Development Mentoring

Different types of mentoring programs can have specific focuses within the organization. Two popular versions of focused programs are career development and leadership development mentoring. Both programs focus on the mentors’ and mentees’ movement within the organization, and both programs have their own benefits.

In career development mentoring, mentees should have a desire to take their career forward. Career development can include both vertical and horizontal movement, so it is ideal for mentees who may seek a career change. In that case, the mentor should be in the career the mentee is looking to move into. 

For leadership mentoring, the focus is more on vertical movement and succession planning. This makes it a great choice for high-potential employees who are succession candidates. To promote leadership development, the mentors should be leaders in the organization who are able and willing to help younger employees move up. 

The benefits of career and leadership development mentoring include:

  • Succession planning
  • Organizational marketability to potential employees
  • Increased productivity and internal growth
  • Improved employee retention
  • Diversify leadership teams 


Bonus Program: Combined Coaching and Mentoring 

In addition to the 3 types of mentoring programs that have been discussed, you can also combine different types of career development programs to work together.

Coaching and mentoring
 are often thought to be the same thing with different names. However, coaching and mentoring are different.

  • Coaching involves skill development in a short-term relationship with a coach. The coach is often a third-party hire. Their role is to specifically get the individual ready for a career or role change.
  • Mentoring is usually all internal and is focused more on individual development than grooming for a specific position.

This said, coaching and mentoring can be combined into one great employee development program for today’s workplace. This would involve implementing a qualifier for participants that sign up, assigning them to either a coaching or a mentoring relationship.

Once in the relationship, mentees can also be exposed to short coaching sessions as needed for skill development. Coachees can participate in mentoring sessions as well, with other mentors in the organization.

To keep track of this program, consider implementing software. Talent development software can keep track of all participants involved in the program. It can also record progress in each relationship and help with the matching process.

The benefits of a combined coaching and mentoring program include:

  • Soft and hard skill development
  • Flexibility that allows anyone to participate
  • Promotion of internal diversity
  • Accessibility to external skills experts


Insala has over 20 years of experience with talent development software. For more information on how our software can help your mentoring program, request a demo today.

Through innovative web-based SaaS technology, Insala partners with organizations to accelerate performance and drive evidence-based decisions for organizations and their people.

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