Mentorship

Mentoring Models: 7 Types + How to Use Them in the Workplace

Depending on what you want to accomplish with your mentoring program, there are different models or types of mentorships. Here are the different models you can use for your workplace mentoring program.

Matthew Reeves

CEO of Together

Published on 

July 4, 2022

Updated on 

September 18, 2023

Time to Read

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It’s no surprise that workplace mentoring programs hold tremendous value for individual employees. A recent study with CNBC found that 91% of workers with a mentor are happy in their role.

Mentorship programs benefit entire organizations as a relatively low-lift tactic to increase employee engagement, improve relationships, and encourage knowledge-sharing. 

With so many different kinds of mentorship models, how do you choose the right one for your organization?    

In this guide, you’ll learn about the most common types of mentorship models and how they function. Then, you’ll see use cases for each model so you can pick and choose how to apply them in your organization's mentoring process. 

We know you’re busy. If you don’t have time to dig into the details of each mentorship model below, we’ve summarized everything in this cheat sheet

What are the 3 Cs of mentoring?

In the past, we’ve talked at length about how to build an effective mentoring program from the ground up — heck, we’ve even written a guide about it. 

No matter what kind of program you build or what model you choose, any successful mentoring relationship follows the three C’s: Clarity, Communication, and Commitment

Clarity 

Before you bring your mentorship program to life, make sure you have clearly defined its goals and expectations, along with how you plan to monitor progress and evaluate results

When you set clear goals and expectations, mentees can focus on precisely what they want to achieve out of the experience. They know who to talk to and what to ask for the desired outcome. 

Communication

Communication is vital to any relationship, let alone a successful mentor/mentee relationship. 

Straightforward, seamless communication helps mentors set expectations right away. Plus, mentors and mentees can work together to iron out a plan to help the mentee reach their goals.  

For remote workers unable to meet in person, digital tools are highly effective for communicating. Email, Zoom, and Slack are three useful channels to keep the conversation flowing, even online. 

Commitment

A successful mentorship program requires all participants to commit their time. In a recent study, 65% of surveyed respondents cited a, “willingness to spend time on the relationship” as the top factor behind a successfully mentorship experience. 

Rather than cram a session into a busy day, mentors and mentees need to work together to establish a timeline and schedule dedicated meeting times in advance. 

Another helpful tactic to encourage commitment to the mentorship process is to invite mentors and mentees to write an action plan together. This plan can include a goal or objectives, a timeline, and how both parties intend to work together to see the relationship through.  

7 mentorship program models for your workplace 

Suppose you’re building a formal mentoring program from scratch or improving an existing one. It can be daunting to get started. That’s because there are so many different types of mentorship models to choose from. 

Before you can start a mentoring program, you need to understand the most common types of mentorship models and how they function. 

Here’s a snapshot of seven popular and effective mentorship models for any workplace.

1. One-on-one mentoring

One-on-one mentoring is the most common kind of mentoring relationship. 

In this type of relationship, a more experienced person (i.e., the mentor) provides guidance, advice, and support to a less experienced person (i.e., the mentee). 

The goal behind this model is usually career advancement or skill-building. In this case, the mentee develops skills and knowledge in a particular area by speaking with an expert mentor in that field.

Examples of one-on-one mentoring:

  • A human resources manager mentors a new employee on the company's policies and procedures.
  • A senior engineer mentors a junior engineer on the best practices for engineering design.

2. Group mentoring

Group mentoring is a model where one or more mentors provide guidance and advice to several mentees. It’s similar to one-on-one mentoring but typically involves more than two people. 

There are three types of group mentoring, which include:

  • One mentor with multiple mentees
  • Multiple mentors and mentees
  • Peer mentoring

A group mentoring relationship provides protégés with a greater sense of support and community, as well as multiple perspectives on their career development. It's very effective for organizations looking to develop a pool of future leaders. 

In a group mentoring setting, mentees usually have something in common. They may be onboarding, going through a high-potential program, or participating in an employee resource group.

Examples of group mentoring:

  • One mentor with multiple mentees: A senior executive mentors a group of high-potential employees.
  • Multiple mentors and mentees: A group of employees at different organizational levels mentors each other.

3. Peer mentoring

Peer mentoring is a mentoring relationship where two people of similar experience levels provide guidance and support to each other.  Peer mentoring relationships are often informal and develop spontaneously between two people who share similar interests or goals.

Occasionally, a more formal peer-to-peer relationship may be formed by L&D as a way to encourage knowledge sharing across an organization. 

Examples of peer mentoring:

  • Two junior engineers mentor each other on the best practices for engineering design.
  • Mid-level managers are paired to discuss leadership and share tips on growing their teams.

4. Reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring is just how it sounds: a junior employee is encouraged to mentor their senior counterparts, in some cases, a direct manager. 

There are typically a few goals behind reverse mentoring. It’s a valuable tactic to help more senior employees stay current with new technologies and can help bridge a generational divide between workplace cohorts. It’s also a helpful way to expose underrepresented talent to leadership. 

Read more: Reverse Mentoring: A toolkit for diversity and inclusion initiatives 

Examples of reverse mentoring:

  • A millennial employee comfortable with social media mentors a baby boomer on how to use Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for business purposes.
  • A recent college graduate familiar with the latest mobile apps mentors a senior manager on which ones could be useful for the company.

5. Flash mentoring

Flash mentoring, or speed mentoring, is a mentoring relationship where mentors and mentees meet for a short period. This could be just one session, or it could be a quick 15-minute session once per week for a few weeks. 

With this type of mentoring relationship, participants meet to discuss a specific issue or challenge that can be solved quickly. They don’t require multiple meetings over several months.  

Examples of flash mentoring:

  • A new employee meets with a more experienced employee to get help with a task they are working on.
  • A student meets with a professor to discuss an upcoming project.

6. Mosaic mentoring

Mosaic mentoring is a hybrid model that’s grown in popularity over the past five years. 

It’s an eclectic approach to mentoring that encourages a mentee to pursue multiple mentoring pathways to maximize learning outcomes. 

This means an individual may work with a few different people to learn a new skill or complete a project. Or, it means they may seek out multiple models of mentoring. 

A benefit of the mosaic mentoring style is that individuals gain a lot of context for the area they are interested in learning about. 

Examples of mosaic mentoring:

  • A junior graphic designer wants to gain new skills to advance their career. They take a multi-pronged approach to achieve this goal. First, they join a Slack community to network with other designers worldwide. Plus, they seek out a one-on-one relationship with a senior designer at their organization.  

In this example, the designer turns to peer mentoring and one-on-one mentoring to learn from multiple perspectives and maximize their growth potential. 

  • A tech executive wants to stay current on best practices for AI in their workplace. This person may choose to reverse mentoring with a group of younger IT employees to quickly get up to speed on new technology.

In this example, the executive is engaging in both reverse mentoring and group mentoring. 

7. Functional mentoring

Functional mentoring is a project-based approach to traditional mentoring. In this model, there is a tangible outcome sought by the mentee. 

With functional mentoring, there is a pre-defined end goal the mentee wants to achieve. It's less abstract than general upskilling or career development. 

Rather, functional mentoring allows for an individual to seek out a subject matter expert to gain specific insight about a project, like grant writing, building a program, or pulling a report.  

Examples of functional mentoring:

  • An intern at a non-profit seeks out an experienced grant writer for advice to draft a successful funding proposal. 
  • A content marketer reaches out to a subject-matter expert to gain insight into an eBook topic outside of their knowledge base. 

Which model of mentorship is best for you?

We’ll let you in on a secret: when it comes to choosing the right mentorship model, there is no “best” choice. A successful mentoring program depends on a case-by-case basis on how you, or your employees, want to achieve a goal. 

To get started crafting a proper mentorship program, consider:

  1. The amount of time and resources you have available
  2. The level of commitment from both the mentor and the mentee
  3. The type of relationship you want to foster between the mentor and mentee
  4. The goals you hope to achieve through the program

Common use cases for each mentorship model

Let’s look at specific use cases, like employee onboarding or diversity training, to learn how different mentor models might help. 

General employee career development

  • One-on-one: Junior employees gain tailored guidance and advice from a senior employee.
  • Peer: Mid-level employees across departments share their challenges and goals.
  • Group: Junior engineers meet with a senior engineer to discuss how to manage up and grow their careers.
  • Reverse: Executives connect with junior employees to understand how they use technology in their day-to-day lives.
  • Flash: Hosting a speed networking event between leaders and employees.
  • Mosaic: An employee schedules multiple quick, 15-minute conversations with individual executive team leaders to gain career advice. 
  • Functional: An entry-level HR employee shadows a senior HR team lead during review cycles. 

Employee resource group

  • One-on-one: A more experienced employee resource group (ERG) member helps a newer member adjust to the company culture.
  • Peer: HR hosts a networking event for members of the same ERG.
  • Group: Senior members share their experiences and advice with junior members.
  • Reverse: An executive hosts a virtual Q&A to share how they grew their career.
  • Flash: Speed networking to connect with members on different teams.
  • Mosaic: A senior member of an ERG sets conversations up with all members to collect ideas to improve the group. 
  • Functional: A vital member of an ERG reaches out to an events coordinator to brainstorm a calendar of activities for the group. 

Diversity program

  • One-on-one: A senior leader in the organization mentors an entry-level employee from an underrepresented group.
  • Peer: Pairing employees from different backgrounds with one another so they can understand new perspectives.
  • Group: Diverse employees pair with a senior employee to discuss how to grow their careers.
  • Reverse: A woman of color shares what it’s like to be a minority with a white executive.
  • Flash: A senior diverse employee has a one-off meeting with HR to discuss tips to improve workplace culture. 
  • Mosaic: A junior diverse employee seeks out conversations with several senior employees to discuss the experience of minorities at work.
  • Functional: An employee in L&D seeks out a diversity coordinator to build new training materials for employees. 

High potential employee program

  • One-on-one: A middle manager matches with a high-potential employee (HiPo) to be trained for a leadership role.
  • Peer: Peers meet regularly to discuss career goals, performance objectives, and development plans.
  • Group: A senior manager pairs with high-potential employees interested in developing leadership skills.
  • Reverse: A HiPo employee shares how to retain high performers with an executive.
  • Flash: A HiPo employee meets with different executives weekly to gain new skills.
  • Mosaic: A HiPo employee mentors an intern while also shadowing a People Ops manager. 
  • Functional: A HiPo employee seeks out a career development path, shadowing a member of the C-suite. 

Onboarding

  • One-on-one: A new employee pairs with a mentor who helps them acclimate to the company culture.
  • Peer: Two new employees at the same level but in different departments share their unique experiences.
  • Group: A more experienced colleague mentors new employees on how to grow.
  • Reverse: A junior HR associate mentors a new senior HR executive to show them their applicant tracking tools.
  • Flash: Short, focused conversations or networking events between new employees and more experienced colleagues.
  • Mosaic: New hires are invited to a networking event for fellow new employees. They are also assigned to a more senior employee to learn about the organization. 
  • Functional: A new manager meets with HR to learn about approving timesheets in the organization’s payroll software. 

Learning and Development initiative

  • One-on-one: A more experienced or knowledgeable person pairs with a less experienced person to help them complete training or a course.
  • Peer: HR matches mentors and mentees from groups of employees at a similar level of experience.
  • Group: One or more senior employees help train a group of junior employees on a new CMS. 
  • Reverse: A junior employee shares feedback with executives on a leadership development program. 
  • Flash: Leaders and employees meet for 30 minutes to develop specific skills or knowledge.
  • Mosaic: Employees attend a networking session and then are invited to a Slack channel to continue networking after the event is over. 
  • Functional: An employee asks to shadow an accounting manager to learn about running financial reports. 

New manager training

  • One-on-one: A new manager connects with a senior manager to discuss challenges and opportunities new managers face.
  • Peer: New managers from different departments connect to share their knowledge.
  • Group: A group of new managers is assigned to discuss how to manage successfully.
  • Reverse: A junior employee pairs with a new manager to discuss what employees want from their managers.
  • Flash: A new manager connects with executives over quick leadership development sessions.
  • Mosaic: A new manager meets with senior management for leadership lessons while networking with other new managers in an internal Slack channel. 
  • Functional: A new manager seeks out a senior manager for advice on how to handle review cycles.

Together makes it easy to manage mentoring models 

Getting a mentorship program off the ground is just the first step. From there, you must manage your programs, track participant progress, and monitor results to keep the program going. 

Together is a mentoring platform used by organizations of all sizes to prove and improve the value of mentoring. Our tool makes it easy to build a mentorship program, simplifying the registration process, pairing process, and feedback collection necessary to establish an effective program. 

Plus, Together allows you to measure and track performance so you can see what’s working to scale your program over time. 

Book a demo to learn more from our live experts. 

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