Face-to-face vs Digital Mentoring

October 9, 2019

As technology has changed, so has the way workplace mentoring programs operate. While mentorship has traditionally been built on a personal, face-to-face connection, tech has changed the way we communicate, connect and mentor. However, it raises the question, is the digital way better?

In the modern workplace, mentoring programs can be successful in multinational corporations largely because of technologies like email, mentoring software and communication apps. A big advantage of digital mentoring includes the ability to connect with skilled mentors anywhere in the world at any time. 

Yet, there is an advantage to mentors and mentees in the same area who can meet up, network and discuss organizational opportunities. When it comes to relationships, there is definitely a benefit behind a face-to-face connection. 

The most powerful workplace mentoring opportunities come when these two techniques are used together. When organizations mix traditional mentoring with digital tools, it is a boon to the mentor, mentee and the company. 

Face-to-face Mentoring

When the mentor and mentee are in the same organization and have the opportunity to meet in-person, it can allow for a more meaningful connection to develop. Research has found that 60 to 80 percent of communication is nonverbal. That means that a large part of the way we express ourselves can really only be understood in a face-to-face setting. 

Yet, there are many other advantages when it comes to traditional, in-person mentoring. These include:

  1. Trust. In a traditional mentoring program, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is able to grow more naturally. This leads to trust developing fairly early on in the mentorship. For the mentee, this trust is important as the mentor will start to become an advisor. Any advice that the mentor offers will more likely be acted upon if the trust between the participants is already present. 
  2. Engagement. It is easier to focus and give your full attention to a person sitting in front of you. For the mentee, this means they can benefit from having their mentor’s undivided and undistracted attention. In addition, a mentee is also likely to pay more attention to what the mentor is saying when it is just the two of them in a face-to-face conversation. These in-person sessions can help solidify the connection between a mentor and mentee. 
  3. Organizational advancement. When it comes to workplace mentoring programs, some objectives simply call for a traditional style of mentorship. These include situations where organizations are looking to improve the atmosphere and attitude of employees. In addition, mentorships are sometimes used as a succession tool. At these times a face-to-face approach can be the most useful. 

Digital Mentoring

Due to the interconnectivity of our world, mentees have more opportunity to find a mentor with a distinct skillset and experience. This means that participants can have more control over what type of advisor they have and what they can learn from the experience. 

There are other benefits to a digital mentorship including:

  1. Connectivity. Thanks to the internet, email, mobile phones and other apps, mentors and mentees can connect in real-time. Rather than wait for the next meeting, a mentee can discuss a situation with their mentor that same day. This access to advice can help mentees navigate difficult situations as they unfold. 
  2. Access. Getting a good mentor-mentee match is essential for a successful program. However, the limitations of geography can hinder the process. Tools like email, video calling and text messages help overcome this hurdle. Mentees can benefit from having access to talented mentors around the world. 
  3. Multiple mentors. There are many aspects of our lives that we may need or want a mentor for and tech tools can help us manage those connections better. In other situations, we may want multiple opinions on how to best handle a challenge in the workplace. As great as any one mentor can be, sometimes it can help to have more than one voice for big decisions.  With a digital component to mentoring, mentees can access their advisors when and where they need them. 

Best of Both Worlds

While it can seem that mentorships need to be either in-person connections or digitally developed, the best option is a mix of both. Essentially, a mentor and mentee who are able to leverage digital tools in their relationship can stay connected better. In addition, having face-to-face meetings on occasion can deepen the connection between the participants. 

With digital tools, mentors can email an article they feel is relevant with their mentee, they can set up a video call to check-in and see how the mentee is doing or they can even pass along an encouraging message. Moreover, if there is an opportunity, the mentor can also meet with the mentee over coffee or lunch, take the mentee to a networking type of event or go along with the mentee to a workshop or training course that is relevant. 

Conclusion

Regardless of the style of mentoring program you currently have, there is always a way to add a digital or more face-to-face element to it. This can help cultivate the mentorship and add a new level of connection between the mentor and mentee. Essentially, mentorships develop with regular contact and follow up sessions whether that is over coffee or over the phone. 

Together is a comprehensive mentoring software program that can add the right mix of digital to your workplace mentoring program. Contact us for a free demo today. 


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