Types of Mentoring

Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.

P. J. Palmer

A robust mentoring program is a staff development strategy initiated by the leaders of an organisation for the purpose of building the capacity of their staff. Mentoring is an intentional and supportive professional relationship designed to pass on skills, experience and wisdom. The mentoring relationship benefits all partners: the mentor, the mentee and the organisation. The mentee works closely with one or several mentors according to an agreement that clearly defines the goals for the mentorship. Mentor(s) and mentee are accountable to the organisation’s leaders for accomplishing the goals set out in the agreement. The organisation’s leaders are responsible for allowing the time and providing the resources needed for the mentorship.

A mentoring relationship has four stages:

  1. Preparation – finding out whether mentor and mentee can work well together
  2. Negotiation – defining the nature, the timeframe and the process of the relationship and how to work towards the agreed-upon goals
  3. Enabling growth – regular interaction to facilitate growth toward agreed goals
  4. Closure – evaluating and celebrating accomplishments and deciding how to move on.

There are many different types of mentoring relationships.

One-to-one mentoring: An experienced mentor intentionally invests in helping a mentee grow professionally.

Group mentoring: A mentor is assigned to a group of mentees who meet regularly.

Peer mentoring: People who are in similar situations come together to learn from each other. It can take place between two people or in a group setting.

Mentoring constellation: A mentee has several mentors who each focus on passing on specific competencies in their domain of expertise. A primary mentor oversees the mentorship but the mentee benefits from a diverse group of competency mentors. This type of mentoring is also called a composite of mentors.

Team mentoring: A mentor comes alongside an established team to facilitate their learning (from each other as well as from the mentor) and guide them to reach the goals they have set for themselves as a team.

Hybrid: A mixed method using a combination of the above mentioned types of mentoring relationships to accommodate for individual and cultural preferences.

There are different ways for mentors and mentees to interact and make use of the above-mentioned types of mentoring.

Informal mentoring: A natural mentoring relationship that is loosely structured and based on the personal initiative of the mentee and mentor.

Formal mentoring: A frequently-used staff development strategy in the workplace where a formal mentoring agreement helps mentor, mentee and supervisor to be intentional about reaching the goals of the mentorship. Such formal mentoring relationships benefit not only the mentor and the mentee but also the organisation.

E-mentoring: A mentoring relationship across the miles that is made possible by the use of online communication tools such as email, skype, zoom, whatsapp etc. This is, strictly speaking, more of a method than a type of mentoring. It can be used in all the above-mentioned types. It provides an alternative to face-to-face mentoring.

Reflection question: What are the advantages and disadvantages of these types of mentoring relationships in your context? Which one(s) would be most effective for you and for your organisation?

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