The 7 Different Types Of Mentoring and How To Use Them
Nicola Cronin
8 minutes
January 21, 2020

You may already be aware of the benefits of mentoring for learning and personal or career development, but did you know that there are many different types of mentoring that you can utilise in your organisation?

Mentoring is an established relationship for the purposes of learning and personal or career development. Formalised mentorship takes place in many organisations such as businesses, schools and universities, to support and facilitate the growth of individuals.

All types of mentoring involve bringing people together to form mutually beneficial relationships in which they can learn and grow. Organisations can utilise mentoring for a wide range of purposes, choosing different program types to achieve a variety of objectives.

It can be hard to know where to begin if you’re looking to start a mentoring program. In this guide, we’ll explain firstly the different uses of mentoring and then the different types of mentorship you can use to achieve them.

To start, it’s important to understand the difference between formal and informal mentoring: 

  • Informal mentoring is a mentorship that evolves organically, almost like a friendship. Colleagues, family members, and friends can all be informal mentors; they are people you turn to for advice or to challenge you.
  • In contrast, formal mentoring is an organised program that matches people with mentors who can help them towards a goal or target. Formal mentoring programs in organisations are naturally more fair and inclusive, as they don’t rely on senior managers or teachers ‘taking a shine’ to individuals and favouriting them.

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on formal mentoring within organisations. So, let’s get stuck in.

📖 Find out more about sponsorship and how it complements mentoring in our guide! 📖

Uses of mentoring

We know that mentoring has many benefits for both the individuals involved and the organisation themselves. Problems such as employee turnover, engagement and satisfaction can all be improved through an effective mentoring program.

But as well as this, mentoring can be used for a wide range of purposes within organisations. When starting a mentoring program, it’s important to define the reason behind it from the very beginning, to ensure you can track progress and success.‍

Here are 10 uses of mentoring:

  1. Leadership Development – Mentoring is a great way of developing leadership skills in individuals. Standout leaders can pass on their knowledge and key learnings to somebody less experienced or somebody who is about to enter a leadership role. Sharing challenges and facilitating a support system of leaders is an effective way of training people.
  2. Induction and Onboarding – Starting a new job can be daunting, and depending on the size of the company and the number of new starters, those first few days can end up being chaotic, confusing, and disappointing. Organisations can use mentoring to onboard their new employees, pairing them with someone who can show them the ropes in a friendly and relatable way.
  3. Graduates – Similarly, graduate specific mentoring is a highly effective way of making grads feel welcome, supported, and aspirational. This type of program is particularly relevant considering that 49% of millennials would leave their jobs within their first two years. Young people have high expectations of their working lives, and so investing in their development will go a long way.
  4. Women in Leadership – Many organisations are utilising mentoring to support and empower women in their careers. With a lack of gender parity in senior leadership roles across the majority of organisations worldwide, efforts need to be made to promote upward mobility for women. Mentorship can guide and inspire women at crucial stages of their careers, helping to create a stronger career pipeline for women within organisations. Here at Guider, we are proud to be working with LVMH to help them achieve 50/50 gender balance in senior leadership roles in 2020.
  5. Diversity & Inclusion – Similarly mentoring can support diversity and inclusion efforts within organisations. To tackle diversity imbalance, individuals from an under-represented group can be mentored and supported, which has proven to improve minority representation at management level. In addition, mentorship can help foster a culture of inclusion where everybody is equally factored.
  6. Succession Planning – Similar to leadership development, mentoring for succession planning involves identifying high-performing individuals and prepping them via mentorship for senior roles within the organisation. This creates a talent pipeline throughout the business, and the potential successors receive first-hand information and support.
  7. Knowledge Retention – Similarly, as the older generations in your workforce near retirement, it’s important to ensure their industry knowledge and experience are not lost. By establishing a knowledge retention/sharing mentoring program, you can facilitate the passing down of this information across every facet of the business, as well as build a community in the process.
  8. Maternity & Paternity Mentoring – Both preparing for maternity/paternity leave, and then returning to work afterwards, can be really difficult. Establishing a mentoring program where senior working parents, who have already been through the process, mentor new working parents, is highly valuable for their mental health, job satisfaction and happiness. Similarly, connecting new parents in groups or peer-to-peer mentoring to share experiences is very valuable.
  9. Skill Sharing – Mentoring can feed into up-skilling initiatives in organisations. If a group need to increase their skill in a certain area, they can be assigned mentors who already possess that knowledge and experience to help them get there. This is typically seen with digital skills in organisations and within the software developer community.
  10. Transitional Periods – Another beneficial use of mentoring in organisations is really during any time of change or transition. Whether it’s new management, a structure overhaul, re-distribution etc, mentoring can help re-establish a culture of community across the organisation in a short period of time.

What are the types of mentoring available?

So there you have some of the uses of mentoring within an organisation. But there are also a number of different types or ‘models’ of mentorship.

We have identified 7 key types that you can implement in different ways for different projects or target groups. Some types of mentoring may be better than others for achieving certain objectives or can be combined to create a bespoke mentoring program that works for your organisation.

For example, where high-potential graduates might benefit most from 1:1 mentoring, those returning to work after maternity or paternity leave may gain more from the shared experience of group mentorship.

The 7 key types of mentoring:

1. One-on-One Mentoring

When you think of mentoring this is probably the type that comes to mind. It is the traditional model of mentoring, where one mentor and one mentee agree to enter a mentorship to help the mentee develop, improve and achieve their goals.

In this type of mentoring, the mentor has more experience in an area that the mentee is interested in and so can act as an advisor and guide. This could be in an area such as career direction or leadership development.

While the focus is primarily on the mentee, the mentor will also benefit as they develop leadership skills, learn from their mentee and feel a sense of satisfaction from supporting someone in their career.

An additional benefit of one-on-one mentoring is that a long-term relationship is built and nurtured over time. This can have a profound impact on confidence, mental health and other areas of personal development for both parties.

Read more on How to Find a Great Mentor

2. Peer Mentoring

Similar to one-on-one mentoring, peer mentoring is when two people come together in a mentorship but both parties are from a similar job level or age range.

They may take turns acting as ‘mentor’ and ‘mentee’ or arrange sessions more fluidly. The aim is to share experiences and expertise, learn together and hold each other accountable.

Peer mentoring works well as part of a targeted program, such as for onboarding new employees or providing support to new parents returning to work. It can also give employees an opportunity to develop leadership and communication skills in an autonomous, peer-to-peer environment.

To find out more on Peer Mentoring read our guide here

3. Group Mentoring

This style of mentoring involves one mentor working with several mentees in a group. The mentor will lead the sessions with the group of mentees all bringing in their own range of knowledge and experience.

Group mentoring helps to reach and impact more mentees in a shorter amount of time than traditional mentoring and is particularly useful when organisations are short on good mentors.

It is an effective way of up-skilling groups, retaining knowledge and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing in your organisation. This form of mentorship helps to improve every participant’s teamwork skills too. It is an invaluable way to foster teamwork and a culture of inclusion.

To find out more about Group Mentoring read more here

4. Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring is when a more junior person mentors a more senior person in an organisation. Essentially, traditional mentoring in reverse.

It recognises that there are skill gaps and learning opportunities on both sides of a mentoring relationship. You may utilise reverse mentoring for up-skilling senior employees on digital technology, for example, or as part of a diversity and inclusion initiative.

All one-on-one mentoring relationships have the potential to utilise reverse mentoring, as there is always plenty we can learn from one another. However, a reverse mentoring program formalises and makes this process more accessible. ‍

Read The Complete Guide to Reverse Mentoring for more information

5. Flash Mentoring

As the name suggests, flash mentoring refers to quick one-off mentoring sessions aimed at learning a key piece of information or skill.

Flash mentoring is useful for creating space for impactful knowledge sharing, without the pressure to develop a long-term relationship. It can be used in conjunction with other types of mentoring too, such as group mentoring to really make the most of the session and reach a larger number of employees.

It can also be a helpful way to introduce new mentors and mentees. A flash mentoring session can act as a trial for a new mentoring relationship and help individuals to broaden their networks before committing to a longer-term mentorship.

Interested? Read our guide to Flash Mentoring here

6. Team Mentoring

Much like in sports, team mentoring involves a group of mentors and a group of mentees who carry out mentoring sessions as a team. The key difference between group mentoring and team mentoring is that team mentorship often involves multiple mentors working with the group instead of just one.

You may use team mentoring for a group of mentees working on a shared goal or project. Mentees will have developmental goals that they can work on together with the guidance of a number of mentors.

This type of mentoring can help to promote diversity and inclusion as it creates a space for a number of different people with different opinions and perspectives to come together and learn from one another.

As with group mentoring, this type of mentoring is good for teamwork and eliminates any potential of favouritism or elitism that can sometimes be associated with one-to-one mentoring.

Read more on Team Mentoring here

7. Virtual Mentoring

Finally, as remote work has become and remains to be vital in our modern working lives, virtual mentoring is an important type of mentorship to offer your employees.

Many different types of mentoring can be run remotely using a variety of apps and software for virtual communication. This opens mentoring up to include people in different cities and even globally, as you can connect with people without the need to meet in person.

Offering virtual mentoring can also make your mentoring program more inclusive of employees that are unable to travel to in-person meetings or that prefer to connect virtually. It is an important part of the support you can offer remote teams too.

Just because your people are not in the office, doesn’t mean that your mentoring programs need to be put on hold. Using mentoring software, such as Guider, means mentoring can still take place and make an impact in your organisation.

Read our guide Virtual Mentoring: How to Make it Work for more tips and tricks

So there we have it, the 7 different types of mentoring programs that you can implement in your organisation today!

All types of mentoring are impactful and can be utilised to serve different purposes within your organisation. The key is to understand who your mentoring program is aimed at and gain insight from that group into what they want to gain from the experience.

It might take some trial and error until you find the best type of mentoring for your people and your goals. You may find that a program of several different types works best for your organisation.

How can Guider help? 

Using a mentoring platform like Guider allows organisations to run multiple types of mentoring programs with ease.

Our software takes the hassle out of setting up multiple mentoring programs and already supports the likes of EY, Deloitte, The Guardian and Marks and Spencer with a range of different programs.

If you’re looking for a better way to run mentoring in your organisation or to set up new programs with ease, get in touch by booking a demo

What's next?

Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways Guider can help you supercharge your L&D with mentoring:

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The Complete Mentoring Toolkit
Everything you need to create and scale an effective workplace mentoring programme. Includes: setup checklist, matching guide, expert advice, proving ROI and much more.

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