One of the key decisions you’ll have to make is what mentoring model, or models, you’ll use in your program. The most traditional mentoring model is where one senior person from the organization mentors one junior person from the organization. This model may be the easiest to adminster, but which model you choose will depend on the dynamics of your organization and your strategic goals.
When considering mentoring models, keep in mind that a combination approach may be the best option. For example, the size or requirements of one department or branch may lend themselves to one type of mentoring model, while another model may be more suited to the needs of another group within the organization. For example, if you have a branch operation where there are many mentee candidates but a limited number of potential mentors, Group Mentoring or eMentoring might work best. The composition of different departments or lines-of-business within your organization might be such that different mentoring methods are applied to different departments or lines of business.
Practical considerations – things like where the mentor/mentees are located, how they feel about communicating electronically, whether there are a sufficient number of mentors, and so on – may also come into play when it comes to choosing mentoring model(s).
Here’s a description of various mentoring models organizations have found successful:
This is one-on-one mentoring. Dyads are the most traditional mentoring model, and can be the easiest to administer for an organization. One-on-one mentoring can create strong relationships between mentors and mentees.
This is where the mentor and mentee “meet” via the Internet, for example through e-mail, instant messaging, Skype, Google Hangouts, and so on. This model is especially useful where mentors and mentees are not in the same location, or where program participants travel a great deal.
This is where one mentor works with several mentees as a group. This is particularly useful if there are not as many mentors as mentees. This model has the added benefit of mentees gaining insight from each other. Under this model, however, the mentor/mentee relationship is not as close as it is with one-on-one mentoring relationships.
This is where a mentee has more than one mentor, meeting with each separately. Multiple mentors can provide different perspectives and expertise to the mentee. Multiple mentoring is essentially the same as the “mentor network” concept.
This is where the mentor and mentee are of more-or-less the same level and they mentor each other. This is often used, for example, for on-boarding (where recent hires show new hires the ropes).
This is where a junior person is the mentor to a more senior person. (Sounds odd? Well, think of a grandchild introducing a grandparent to Twitter!)
This can take a few different forms: It can be where several mentors work with several mentees who meet as a team or where an individual serves as leader/mentor and that mentor is available to many mentees at the same time and the team members (the mentees) also support each other through peer mentoring.
This involves three people. There are two traditional ways a triad can be structured:
1. it can involve one relatively senior person mentoring two complimentary mentees (for example, two staff who are at approximately the same level or stage in their career), or
2. it can be comprised of one senior, one mid-level, and one junior person.
With this type of mentoring, mentees benefit from the direct help they get with their goals, as well as indirectly from observing how others work on other goals. It is also useful when there are fewer mentors than mentees.
For more information, read about the benefits and potential risks of triad mentoring.