Different Types of Mentoring and the Benefits of a Mentor
Mentoring is having a kind of renaissance in the business world, with the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg crediting Steve Jobs’s role in his success, Bill Gates crediting Warren Buffett and Sir Richard Branson also saying he had help from renowned aviator Sir Freddie Laker, in setting up Virgin Airways. There really is a strong argument to use mentoring for your business and yourself.
Benefits of Mentoring
There are so many benefits to mentoring, not just for the giants of business, but for all members of staff at all levels of seniority. It can improve company culture, help train new employees, build connection with coworkers, encourage the vocalising of new ideas and build leadership and interpersonal qualities.
Traditionally, mentoring has been a top down exchange with more senior members of staff imparting their hard earned knowledge to junior staff members. But more recently it is about a many-way exchange of ideas and how to manage mentoring, with different styles flourishing in recent years.
Reverse mentoring has risen in popularity and it is literally reversing the role of the mentor and mentee relationship. So the mentor is the junior and the mentee is the senior team member. The idea is the senior member through the exchange can gain insights into what drives (usually) younger staffers, helps them understand communication styles, for example intense social media tactics and can learn new patterns and trends of their younger customers. The juniors can get deeper insight into the business and gain confidence dealing with mature stakeholders.
Peer to Peer
According to a study at a leading UK telecommunications company 78 per cent of employees prefer to learn from their peers but found little attention is focused on this type of training. So, the company set up a shared platform whereby staff can pass on their knowledge and insights through instructional briefs, videos or discussion threads or forums. Four months after implementation, new hires got up to speed more quickly and training costs have fallen.
This type of mentoring is also based on using a shared platform and can also act as a starting point for more organic peer to peer mentoring. Group mentoring is where the mentor, a skilled team member usually quite senior, imparts their knowledge through the platform and can engage with several mentees at a time.
This sounds controversial but some companies find it very effective.
Anonymous mentoring uses psychological testing and background reviews to match mentees with trained mentors outside the organisation. Exchanges are conducted entirely online, and both the mentee and the mentor, who is usually a professional coach or seasoned executive, remain anonymous.
Professional services company Decision Toolbox tested it out with positive results. Joanna Sherriff, 33, the vice president of creative services at the company and an active anonymous mentee said, “My original thought was that it would be odd, in the long run, though, I could see why the anonymity was required. I would never have shared with my mentor some of the things I did if he or she had known my identity or my company.”
Mentoring will be as unique as all the humans in your organisation. There will be many occasions to start a mentoring scheme and in your working life you should expect to have a few mentors at any one stage. A mentoring partnership or group can last years, months or weeks. The key is to make sure it’s measurable, timely and outcomes based. All parties should get something out of it and at the end of the day strong connections and improvements should be made.