While one-on-one mentoring is likely the first kind of mentoring structure you might think of, there are many options for how you deliver mentorship through your organization. Each of these options have their strengths and weakness in the kind of relationships they build, resources and administration they require, and how they will match with your participants’ needs. None of these structures are inherently better than others, and all can be useful in designing your mentorship program.
There is a reason that one-on-one mentoring is the first kind that comes to mind. When the match works between a mentor and mentee, the relationship can be powerful. The value in this structure is that the focused attention can target discussions on the mentee’s current needs and challenges. These relationships can last beyond the parameters of the program and become a foundation for a network for all participants.
One-on-one mentoring works best when:
One-on-one mentoring may be less effective when:
Group mentoring brings together a group of mentees who are seeking help in a similar area such as the job search. They run for a set period of time at regular intervals and can be lead by a single mentor with expertise or by a series of mentors who each provide different areas of expertise. This structure provides an opportunity to learn not only from the mentor but also from other mentees. It also shares the knowledge of highly skilled mentors with more participants.
Group mentoring works best when:
Group mentoring may be less effective when:
Peer mentoring is a form of group mentoring but there is no lead mentor. The mentors in the group come together because they fill a similar role or are looking to learn a similar skill and problem solve, learn, and mentor each other. These groups may be facilitated by someone in your organization or completely run by a group of peers. Even though they lack expertise, this can be made up from shared experience, knowledge, and training within the group. This group will especially benefit from having resources available to help them fill gaps in their knowledge.
Peer mentoring works best when:
Peer mentoring may be less effective when:
Your organization may choose to combine more than one structure in your mentoring program. Perhaps you combine one-on-one mentoring with group or peer mentoring to round out the experience of the participants. Or peer mentoring groups could occasionally bring in expert mentors to fill in knowledge gaps or address specific challenges. For example, ERIEC provides Intercultural Competency sessions to complement their one-on-one mentoring program.
Hybrid structures work best when:
Hybrid structures may be less effective when:
Informal mentoring is similar to one-on-one mentoring but without the organizational structure. Your organization can provide resources or forums where potential matches could meet or just encourage mentees to approach a colleague to be a mentor. This can work really well in an area or organization where mentoring is encouraged. It can be challenging or scary for mentees to approach potential mentors, so if mentoring is not strongly supported, this informal structure can fail to produce matches organically. It is possible to start a program with a more formal structure and let it evolve into something more informal if that works for participants.
Informal mentoring works best when:
Informal mentoring may be less effective when:
E-mentoring is as much a format as it is a structure. It can be used to do one-on-one mentoring or group and peer mentoring. It simply means using online or mobile technology as a mentoring tool. This can be a complement to other types of in-person mentoring and used to communicate between mentoring meetings. It could be used as the primary method of mentoring when the participants are unable to meet in person. Or it can be used to supplement other forms of mentoring to connect a mentee to specialized knowledge that is not available in their immediate area.
E-mentoring works best when:
E-mentoring may be less effective when: