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The Various Types of Mentorship Programs and How to Use Them - HRDQ

The Various Types of Mentorship Programs and How to Use Them

Mentorship programs are a powerful tool you can use in your organization to help build relationships between leadership and employees. There are countless benefits to encouraging mentor-mentee partnerships in your workplace, including the fact that it helps boost job satisfaction, engagement, and productivity among mentored employees.

What are the different types of mentorship programs, though, and how can you use them? What structural models can you use when designing or implementing a mentoring program?

In this article, we'll look closely at what you need to know to ensure that your chosen program is best suited for your organization.

Recommended Training
Mentoring 101 Customizable Courseware
  • Establish mentoring relationships
  • Maintain mentoring relationships
  • Resolve mentoring issues
Learn more

The Types of Mentorship Programs

A Group Mentoring Session

Before you propose a mentorship program in your workplace, you should familiarize yourself with the various types of programs and how they can be valuable for your specific workplace.

1. Career Mentoring Programs

The most common kind of mentorship program in the workplace is career mentoring. This usually entails a senior executive and a more junior employee being paired up and developing a relationship to support the mentee's professional development.

When companies are first starting out with mentorship programs, this can be a great place to start because it’s simple to implement, and it gives people the opportunity to form relationships across teams.

A Career Mentoring Program

When you implement a career mentorship program, it can reward you with many benefits.

First, it can result in better career outcomes for your team. By having a mentor, your employees can experience tangible, positive outcomes.

Second, it can increase job satisfaction and employee engagement for both your junior and senior employees. The mentor-mentee relationship can be highly beneficial to both parties involved and help give more purpose and meaning to the respective roles.

Finally, this can be useful for even people high up in your organization. With the help of a mentor, even CEOs can become comfortable and proficient in their roles much more quickly.

2. New Manager Mentoring Programs

Mentorship programs can be beneficial to everyone in your organization, but new managers are particularly able to benefit from this type of program. When an individual is stepping into a managerial role for the first time, having a mentor there to offer advice and guidance can mean that they develop skills and confidence faster than if they are entirely on their own.

When a person is promoted into a leadership role for the first time, there are a lot of skills to learn very quickly. That can be incredibly overwhelming for even the most competent of employees. Having a mentor to turn to can make a huge difference in how easy and smooth this transition is.

New Manager Mentoring Program

Confidence is essential to being a good manager, and new managers often struggle with self-doubt as they work to fulfill their new roles.

If this type of issue goes unaddressed, it can mean that their performance and self-awareness suffer. With the help of a mentor, they can receive a confidence boost because there is someone there to help them overcome and learn from the challenges they face.

One excellent program that can help leaders at all levels of an organization perform the role of a mentor is Mentoring in the Moment. With this program, mentors can learn how to help mentees move beyond needing their guidance and start to display self-confidence and the ability to take the initiative. 

3. Diversity-Focused Mentoring Programs

An increasingly popular type of mentorship program is the diversity-focused program. These are geared toward women and people in underrepresented groups.

Diversity-Focused Mentoring Program

As companies become more aware of the need to increase diversity in the workplace, this type of mentorship program targets underrepresented groups to create equitable opportunities in terms of career development.

Diversity-focused mentoring programs are important because they help foster an inclusive and equitable environment, leading to greater innovation and enhanced organizational performance as everyone in the organization feels accepted, able to share their opinions, and invested in the success of the team and company.

Diversity-focused mentoring programs also contribute to leadership development, as current and future leaders develop inclusivity into their work ethic and are culturally competent.

4. High-Potential Employee Mentoring Program

Some employees clearly stand out as candidates for growth within the company. If you can't give them the growth opportunities and support they need, though, they might flounder in their potential or go elsewhere.

If you're interested in helping your top performers thrive and grow, a high-potential employee mentoring program could be precisely what your company needs.

High Potential Employee Mentoring Program

Research has found that high-potential employees bring 91% more value to organizations and work 21% harder than the rest of their peers. Investing in these individuals ensures that the value they can offer reaches its full potential and stays within your company.

5. Knowledge-Sharing Mentoring

Knowledge-sharing mentorship programs can help your organization increase employee engagement and employee retention rates and overcome biases simultaneously.

With this type of mentoring relationship, a younger employee and a more seasoned employee are paired up. However, the idea isn't just that the older employee shares their knowledge with the younger worker. Instead, the goal is for there to be a two-way street.

Knowledge-Sharing Mentoring

Both individuals can share information with one another in a mutually beneficial way. The younger employee can benefit from the many years of experience the more seasoned employee has under their belt, while the more senior employee benefits from the fresh perspective of the younger worker.

This can help to confront and deal with generational tension that is common in the workplace. It's common for each generational group to have its own misconceptions about other groups, and this type of mentorship program can help overcome this.

Mentorship Program Structures

In addition to the different types of mentorship programs you can employ, there are also different structures that offer different benefits.

Structuring a Mentorship Program

Let's look at the options to help you structure the best mentoring program for your organization.

1. One-on-One Mentoring

By far, the most common model for mentorship programs is the one-on-one model. This is when there is one mentor and one mentee paired up. 

One-on-One Mentoring

It is a popular model because it gives ample room for the parties to develop a relationship with one another so that the mentor can provide the best possible support for the mentee. The personalized attention ensures that the mentee receives targeted feedback and development opportunities that really contribute to their current performance and their future career growth and career goals.

Are you wondering whether it's possible to assess a leader's ability to coach and mentor other individuals? With our Coaching Skills Inventory, individuals in leadership roles can identify their coaching skills strengths and weaknesses, understand how to hold effective performance coaching meetings, and much more.

2. Resource-Based Mentoring

This type of mentorship program doesn't involve a manager deliberately matching mentees and mentors. Instead, certain people agree to be listed as available mentors, and mentees select one to reach out to.

Resource-Based Mentoring

While this can be an accessible type of mentorship program for organizations with limited resources, it can also result in mismatched pairings between mentors and mentees. This is why in some cases a more formal mentoring program may be a better option.

3. Group Mentoring

In this model, one mentor will work with four to six mentees simultaneously. Once or twice a month, the group will meet to discuss various topics on which the mentor can offer advice.

Group Mentoring

Some of the negative aspects of this type of mentorship program include the difficulty of holding regularly scheduled meetings for many people. On top of that, it also doesn't have the strong personal relationship that is typically a part of one-on-one mentorship programs.

Sometimes, organizations combine group mentoring with one-on-one mentoring to get the best of both worlds. For instance, each mentee might be assigned a specific mentor while also attending meetings with a senior executive who can share expertise and knowledge with all the mentors and mentees at once.

4. Peer-Based Mentoring

In some instances, peers can meet in small groups and learn from one another without a more senior employee working as the mentor.

Peer-Based Mentoring

In this model, workers share best practices, feedback, and points of interest. This is a great way to implement horizontal knowledge sharing within your company and build relationships across teams and departments.

5. Training-Based Mentoring

This is a mentorship model where a mentor is tasked with helping a mentee develop specific skills associated with a training program.

Training-Based Mentoring

While this can be a limited kind of program because the information is limited to only the training subject at hand, it can be useful in efficiently developing a workforce.

6. Reverse Mentoring

As mentioned above, mentorship programs don't always have to be one-way streets like in the knowledge-sharing mentorship program style. In the reverse mentoring model, a senior employee and a junior employee are matched together in order to learn from one another. Senior employees can learn networking and digital skills from the younger employees, while junior employees can gain valuable knowledge that is typically only learned from time and experience with the company.

Reverse Mentoring

Several major companies, including HP and Cisco, have implemented this type of mentorship program and found it successful and beneficial.

How Do Mentorship Programs Help Your Organization?

Discussing Mentorship Program Benefits

If you aren't convinced that mentorship programs are a good idea for your company, let's look at some of the benefits discovered through research, surveys, and the experiences of companies around the globe.

1. Promotes a Culture of Learning

Building a culture of learning isn't the most straightforward task. According to LinkedIn's 2017 Workplace Learning Report, the most significant barriers to learning and development are time and money. In this study, it was made clear that there is a big value gap between the participants participating in L&D programs and the organizations funding them.

To promote a culture of learning, the company needs to buy in, and the employees need to see the value in the knowledge they receive. One of the best ways to bridge this gap is through mentorship programs.

Promoting a Culture of Learning

For senior executives, the programs give them access to new perspectives and help them realize that mentoring can help them continue to develop their leadership skills. For junior employees, these programs can offer a tremendous variety of benefits, including having access to the advice, guidance, and experience of people that have been in the industry for many years.

When both sides of the equation see the value in mentorship programs, it opens the door for properly budgeting further learning and development initiatives.

2. Allows For New Perspectives

New perspectives in the workplace can lead to innovation, creativity, and growth that simply can't happen when there isn't any cross-pollination between individuals in different roles.

Coworkers Offering New Perspectives

Through mentorship programs, new viewpoints and perspectives can be shared in a way that benefits mentors, mentees, and companies as a whole.

3. Improves Company Culture

Mentorship programs also help to make the culture more inclusive and build community between diverse groups.

Improved Company Culture

No matter the size of your company, there's a good chance that employees of all levels settle into routines where they interact with certain people regularly and other people hardly at all. Mentorship programs help to bridge the gap between different departments and rungs of the hierarchy.

4. Everyone Wins

When you implement mentorship programs thoughtfully, the truth is that everyone wins.

Coworkers Learning From One Another

Not only do employees learn from the experiences of leaders, but the leaders also get better at leading.

How to Use Mentorship Programs to Your Advantage

A Mentorship Program

Before starting a mentorship program at your company, let's look at a few tips to help you best use this program for the greatest possible benefit.

1. Be Considerate When Matching Mentors and Mentees

There are three basic options when it comes to matching mentors and mentees.

A Mentor and Mentee

These options are:

  1. Letting employees choose their mentor.
  2. Utilizing a matching survey that uses an algorithm to match mentees and mentors.
  3. Having the program admin pair up matches.

    It's not generally a good idea for this part of the process to be completely randomized. For smaller companies, the best choice is often for the program admin to thoughtfully choose who will be in each mentor-mentee group. For larger organizations, choosing an algorithmic approach might be a reasonable way to match people based on interests, skills, job descriptions, and the mentee's goals.

    2. Set Measurable Goals (and Track Your Progress!)

    An important part of any mentorship program is for the participants to outline their goals ahead of time and measure them as the program goes on. A combination of feedback from the mentor and self-evaluation is typically an excellent way to accomplish this.

    Setting Measurable Mentorship Goals

    It's worth tracking progress during mentor programs because it can help demonstrate the usefulness of such an initiative to HR and higher-ups, serve as a motivating force for your team, and help you identify the scope of capabilities possessed by your employees.

    Mentoring Tools For Your Workplace

    If you're thinking about beginning a mentorship program at your office, you'll want to take a look at our Mentoring 101 Customizable Courseware. In this program, participants can learn how to ensure a mentor-mentee relationship is highly valuable to both parties.

    Recommended Training
    Mentoring 101 Customizable Courseware
    • Establish mentoring relationships
    • Maintain mentoring relationships
    • Resolve mentoring issues
    Learn more

    Speaking from the perspective of both the mentee and the mentor, this program teaches participants how to establish a successful mentorship relationship and maintain that relationship over time. With the help of our course, you can know that every individual in the program can make the most of their mentor-mentee opportunity.

    Do you have any questions about mentorship programs, or how you can effectively use one in your organization? If so, be sure to leave us a comment down below, and we'll get back to you within a day or two! We make it a point to reply to every comment we receive, and we'd be more than happy to answer any of your questions.

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    About our author

    Bradford R. Glaser

    Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.