The most effective workplace mentoring programs are customized to meet the organization's and its employees' specific needs.
The best mentoring model for your company will depend on several factors, including:
- The size of your organization
- How much you want to scale mentoring across your company
- Who is participating in the program
- The specific goals you hope to achieve with mentoring
With so many different models to choose from, how can companies decide which one is best for them?
This article will look at the five mentoring models you can use to pair employees. We'll also provide an overview of each model with some use cases. Armed this information, you can choose the best model for your program.
A quick note — We know you’re busy. You may not have the time right now to dig into the details of each mentorship model below. If that’s the case, we’ve summarized popular workplace mentoring models in this tear-away cheat sheet. You’ll get the quick hits on each and when to use each.
How many different models of mentoring are there?
There's more than one way to run a best practice mentoring program. Each model works best in specific circumstances. Read them all and choose the one that will help the mentee navigate the organization and develop their skills best for your specific needs and goals.
To decide which is best for you, keep the following things in mind:
- The amount of time and resources you have available
- The level of commitment from both the mentor and the mentee
- The type of relationship you want to foster between the mentor and mentee
- The goals you hope to achieve through the program
Also, an effective mentoring program has the following:
- A clear purpose and defined goals
- Well-trained mentors and mentees who understand their roles and expectations
- Regular communication and feedback between the mentor and mentee
- A system for monitoring progress and evaluating results
Your guide to different types of mentoring
Here’s a quick lowdown of the five different common mentoring models that you can adapt to fit your goals best.
One-on-one mentoring is the most common type of mentoring. A more experienced person (the mentor) provides guidance, advice, and support to a less experienced person (the mentee). The focus is usually on helping the mentee develop their skills and knowledge in a particular area.
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.
Group mentoring is similar to one-on-one mentoring but involves more than two people. In this relationship, one or more mentors provide guidance and advice to several mentees.
This 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.
Mentees usually have something in common. They may be onboarding, going through a high potential program, or participating in an employee resource group.
The three types of group mentoring include:
- One mentor with multiple mentees
- Multiple mentors and mentees
- Peer mentoring
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.
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.
That doesn’t mean you can’t organize a formal mentoring relationship. Many formal mentoring programs pair peers to encourage knowledge sharing.
Examples of peer mentoring:
- Two junior engineers mentor each other on the best practices for engineering design.
- Mid level managers are paired together to discuss leadership and share tips on how to grow their teams.
Reverse mentoring is a model of mentorship in which junior employees mentor their senior counterparts. The purpose of reverse mentoring is to help senior employees stay current with new technologies, trends and bridge the generational divide between different cohorts within an organization. It’s also frequently used to expose underrepresented talent to leadership (for more on this, see our reverse mentoring toolkit for diversity).
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.
Flash mentoring (or commonly referred to as speed mentoring) is a mentoring relationship where mentors and mentees meet for a short period (usually one hour or one session). They 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.
Which model of mentorship is best?
Now that we’ve covered different models for your mentoring program you’re probably wondering which one you should use. Let’s look at 7 different use cases for mentorship and examples of each mentoring model.
Different use cases for mentorship
A quick note - For ease of reading we've included the breakdown below in a handy table. Check out and download our table of different models for mentorship. No email required.
General employee career development
Junior employees get tailored guidance and advice from a senior employee.
Employees in different departments share their challenges and goals.
Junior engineers meet with a senior engineer to discuss how to manage up and grow their careers.
Executives connect with junior employees to understand how they use technology in their day-to-day lives.
Hosting a speed networking event between leaders and employees.
Employee resource group
A more experienced member of an ERG helps a newer member adjust to the company culture.
Networking between members of the same employee resource group.
A group of senior members shares their experiences and advice with junior members.
An executive host a Q/A to share how they grew their career.
Speed networking to connect with members on different teams.
A senior leader in the organization mentors an entry-level employee from an underrepresented group.
Pairing employees from different backgrounds with one another so they can understand new perspectives.
Diverse employees pair with a senior employee to discuss how to grow their career.
A woman of colour shares what it’s like to be a minority with a white executive.
A junior diverse employee matches with several senior employees to discuss the experience of minorities at work.
High potential employee program
A middle manager matches with a high-potential employee to be groomed for a leadership role.
Peers meet regularly to discuss career goals, performance objectives, and development plans.
A senior manager pairs with high-potential employees interested in developing their leadership skills.
A HiPo employee shares with an executive how to retain high performers.
A HiPo employee meets with different executives weekly to gain new skills.
New employee pair with a mentor who helps them acclimate to the company culture.
Two new employees at the same level but in different departments share their unique experiences.
A more experienced colleague mentors a group of new employees on how to grow.
A junior HR associate mentors a new senior HR executive to show them their applicant tracking tools.
Short, focused conversations or networking events between new employees and more experienced colleagues.
Learning and Development initiative
A more experienced or knowledgeable person pairs with a less experienced person to help them complete training or a course.
Two employees at a similar level of experience pair together to support each other in a sales training course.
One or more senior employees help train a group of junior employees on a new CMS.
A junior employee shares feedback with executives on a leadership development program.
Leaders and employees meet for 30 minute to development specific skills or knowledge.
New manager training
A new manager connects with a senior manager to discuss challenges and opportunities new managers face.
New managers from different departments connect to share their knowledge.
A group of new managers are assigned discuss how to manage successfully.
A junior employee pairs with a new manager to discuss what employees want from their managers.
A new managers connect with executives for quick leadership development sessions.
Together makes mentorship easy
Together's mentoring software has helped many industry leaders achieve greatness by developing a perfect mentorship program. Our software simplifies the registration process, pairing process, and feedback collection. Our software also allows you to measure and track the program's progress efficiently.
Mentorship deserves a place in your company culture today. It offers a variety of benefits to the company and employees alike. To attract employees to your mentoring program, you need to invest in the right software.
Our software is suitable for existing or new programs. No matter your preferences, you will experience great ease when running the program. Choose Together to scale your program today.