The Many Faces of Mentoring

Randy Emelo
Written by
Randy Emelo

Modern Mentoring Expands Ideas

Global Mentoring Program

Is there more than one type of mentoring? Yes!

Modern mentoring is dynamic and comprised of relational connections of all types.  The common thread that unites these connections is that they are born or derived from a learning need shared by as few as a couple of people to as many as one hundred or more.  Consider these examples of the various ways that modern mentoring can take shape, and then think about how you can help enable them to occur at your organization.

Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring places those who would typically be considered mentors into the mentee role, and those typically considered mentees into the mentor role. This type of mentoring can be helpful to use to bring your older employees up to speed on new skills, processes, and technologies, which younger generations, like Millennials and GenXers, have already mastered. It can also help expose organizational leaders to new perspectives of younger generations and bring bright young minds to the attention of seasoned leaders.

Put It into Practice: To support reverse mentoring, you need to help your more experienced workers embrace the concept of reverse mentoring and understand the value of connecting with younger workers who can help them learn about technology, emerging trends, and cultural attitudes toward products and services.

Peer Mentoring

Mentoring ConversationsPeer mentoring connects colleagues who are at the same hierarchical level in an organization but who may be in different functions or divisions.  Learning relationships of this sort are particularly beneficial because peers can be a great source of social support and encouragement.  They understand and experience the same types of organizational pressures based on their position in the organization and can provide their peers with breakthrough insight and advice from someone who truly gets it.

Put It into Practice: To support peer mentoring, urge managers, supervisors, and leaders in your organization to foster an environment for subordinates where reaching out past their work teams and functions to connect with peers is an encouraged practice.  Managers and supervisors often are the “choke-point” for this type of connection, so they will need to help promote and support these lateral connections.

Group Mentoring  

Group mentoringGroup mentoring leverages internal experts and facilitators to support collaborative learning experiences for multiple learners at one time.  The power of group mentoring comes from group leaders sharing expert knowledge with participants and from participants sharing information and experience on a peer level.  The focus of group mentoring can vary significantly, ranging from supporting topical learning (e.g., project management basics), to implementing new processes (e.g., a new consultative sales model or how to have difficult management conversations), to ongoing relational peer support groups (e.g., a new parents group focused on achieving work/life balance).  Due to its dynamic nature, group mentoring is efficient and flexible.  It also helps to bring together dissimilar colleagues who can learn from each other’s different perspectives, and this diverse collaboration often leads to innovative new ideas, processes, or work-products.

Put It into Practice: To support group mentoring, look for popular or timeless work-related topics (work/life balance, career development, etc.) for groups to discuss.  Help them get the conversation going by setting up groups around these topics so people can simply jump in and start participating.

Want to know more about modern mentoring? Read this Infoline on the topic to learn more!

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