Mentoring Styles

Mentoring is just-in-time help, insight into issues, and the sharing of expertise, values, skills, and perspectives. Mentors function as a catalyst—an agent that provokes a reaction that might not otherwise have taken place or speeds up a reaction that might have taken place in the future.

Just as there are types of mentoring to address career goals, there are different approaches to mentoring that can be used individually or combined to meet mentee-mentor interests in pursuing one-to-one or group-based experiences, the demands of time, and individual and organizational outcomes.

Mentorindividualgroupone or two individualsindividual/manygroupindividual/non-interactiveindividual
Role of Mentor(s)expert passing on knowledge to an individualco-learners sharing knowledgeexpert(s) passing on knowledge to a groupexpert passing on knowledgeco-learners sharing knowledgeobserved at a distancenew staff and/or from different generation passing on knowledge
inside organization
hierarchical and peer; 
inside/outside organization
hierarchical; inside organizationhierarchical and peer; inside/outside organizationcircle of peersmentor is subject of intense researchmentor and mentee convey information regarding generational similarities and differences
Time commitmentlong-termvariablelong-termminutesmedium/long-termvariablelong-term
Individual outcomesenhanced performance;
career accomplishments;
career satisfaction;
career advancement
enhanced performance;
social skills;
leadership capability
enhanced performance; career accomplishments; career advancementenhanced performance; social skillsenhanced performance; career advancement; social skills; self-awarenessenhanced performance; learningmutual learning and understanding;
career advice;
career advancement
Organizational outcomesenhanced performance;
enhanced performance;
organizational learning;
leadership capacity
enhanced performance; retention; junior staff benefit from senior staff knowledgeenhanced performance; leadership capacityenhanced performance; collaboration; learning; leadership capacityenhanced performance;
understanding of multi-generational issues

Basic attributes of the "network" style:

  • a small group of people to whom you turn for mentoring
  • incorporation of individuals outside your own organization
  • based on a high degree of mutual learning and trust

Basic attributes of the "group" style:

  • one or two mentors provide mentoring to a group of employees
  • enables an organization to provide mentoring to more mentees than one-on-one matching programs
  • typically work with a group of mentees that have something in common, e.g., new middle managers, or wish to pursue a common need, e.g., those interested in advancing a career in management

Basic attributes of the "minute mentoring" style:

  • based on the concept of speed-dating
  • saves time
  • many people meet one-on-one at an event for a few minutes at a time
  • meet many different people in a short amount of time
  • convey knowledge and "pearls" of wisdom

Basic attributes of the "mentoring circle" style:

  • peer mentoring support network for friends and/or colleagues
  • relationships are reciprocal in nature
  • members of the circle support each others' professional and personal growth

Basic attributes of the "invisible" style:

  • invisible mentors are leaders from who you can learn by observing from a distance
  • learning is through extensive research into the mentor's life, including what has been  written about him/her, speeches/presentations, etc.

Basic attributes of the "reverse" style:

  • senior staff are paired with new employees, most often from a different generation
  • senior staff gains new perspective about the future generation
  • junior staff gains career advice and opportunity to interact with senior staff