Seven Types of Mentoring

The word Mentor goes back to Greek mythology.  Mentor was the son of Alcumus. In his old age, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed Mentor and Odysseus’ foster-brother Eumaeus in charge of his son Telemachus when Odysseus left for the Trojan War.  Because of Mentor’s and Eumaeus’ near-paternal relationship with Telemachus, the personal name Mentor came to be used in the 18th century as a term meaning a father-like teacher.

The modern use of the word, mentor, is derived from this.  A mentor is a trusted friend or a counselor with more experience who shares insights. Mentors provide expertise to less experienced individuals, known as a mentees (or protégés), to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks.

By definition, mentoring involves communication and is relationship based. In the organizational setting, mentoring can take many forms.  But generally, mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development. Mentoring entails informal communication, over a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the Mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the Mentee). (From Wikipedia)

In the modern workplace, there are seven types of formal mentoring programs. Mentor Resources has tools for all of these.

  1. New Hires – This is sometimes referred to as on-boarding.  A new employee is assigned a Mentor who is a peer.  The Mentor is there to explain the unwritten rules of the workplace and to shorten the learning curve of the new employee.
  2. Skill Transfer – This is frequently used by corporations with a commitment to cross training or trying to build “hives” of expertise.
  3. Employee Resource Groups – Employee Affinity Groups often have desire for a formal mentoring program to enhance their employee’s career advancement.  Often these diversity groups want their members to be able to connect and share information about how to succeed in the organization and handling stressful situations.
  4. Career Development – The mentoring programs are generally set up by Human Resources under the name Talent Management.  Their goal is to make sure High Potential employees and “Emerging” High Potential employees acquire the right set of experiences and visibility to move up the organization.
  5. Reverse Mentoring – Is one of the newer areas of mentoring.  One of the side effects of a well matched Mentor-Mentee pair, is a broadening of perspective on both sides.  This has become an important part of the development of Senior Managers.
  6. Communities of Practice – Similar to Skill Transfer Mentoring, but longer-term programs for participants in Tech Clubs and other matrix management type organizational structures.  These mentoring programs are geared towards encouraging the development of advanced professional skills.
  7. Succession Planning – Mentoring for the transition into the “C-suite” is, but definition, done with very small numbers of hand-selected people.  This is the only type of Mentoring where WisdomShareTM and Mentor Resources’ software tools are inapplicable.

Each of these types of Mentoring Programs improves employee retention and engagement, if there is a good match and the Mentor-Mentee “click”.   WisdomShareTM, our matching algorithm is based upon skills, job experience and personality traits.

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