Ellen Ensher examines examples of several models of mentoring programs, including traditional, reverse, peer, and online.
- Choice. In today's world, many of us are fortunate to be rich in choice. We can literally choose from among thousands of entertainment options available 24/seven. Because we have so many choices in our everyday life, there is also the expectation from employees that there will be choices offered regarding types of mentoring programs. Let's take a look at the four most common types of mentoring programs offered by organizations today.
The first most common type of mentoring program is still the traditional mentoring program. In this type of program, senior executives are paired with junior employees. For example, I worked with a large government organization whose workforce consisted mainly of engineers. Most of the senior engineers were baby boomers and had a lot of knowledge, history, and secrets stashed away in their brains. The younger engineers were often at a loss regarding how to make things work in this large bureaucracy.
In this program, senior engineers were given half a day a week to mentor younger engineers. The senior engineers served as sponsors to the junior engineers. The mentors recommended their proteges for stretch assignments and introduced them to the movers and shakers at the higher levels. The second common type of mentoring program is peer mentoring. Peer mentors can actually be better than traditional mentors at providing emotional support.
Many organizations have employee affinity groups, such as those for women, people of color, or LGBTQ employees. Peer mentoring is often a big component of these programs. One example of a peer mentoring program at Loyola Marymount University is the Cancer Mentoring Network. This peer mentoring program was started for faculty and staff by faculty and staff for those who had cancer or served as a caregiver for someone with cancer.
We act as resources when faculty and staff are newly diagnosed and take it upon ourselves to be guides and supporters to our afflicted colleagues. The third common type of mentoring program is electronic or virtual mentoring. Research has found that virtual mentoring programs can be just as effective as face-to-face mentoring programs. Also, E-mentoring opens up a world of possibilities as employees can connect with each other all over the world.
One of my favorite examples of a successful E-mentoring program is mentornet.org, which was started in 1997, making it one of the oldest E-mentoring programs around. Their mission is to pair undergraduate and graduate students in STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, with professionals in these industries. Their success statistics are impressive, a whopping 92% of students who have a mentor and that mentor graduated from their programs, and 50% explore work with their mentors.
The fourth type of mentoring program that is growing in popularity are reverse mentoring programs. Reverse mentoring programs are those in which generation Z, or millennial employees, serve as mentors to the more experienced executives. Reverse mentoring was first started at General Electric in the 90s as a way for the younger employees to coach the executives about how to use the Internet. Now, companies like Cisco, Dell, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble and the Hartford Insurance Company have embraced reverse mentoring programs.
The emphasis is on sharing knowledge both ways across generations so the relationship is mutually beneficial. I've placed an article in the exercise files by Wendy Murphy that provides a solid overview of reverse mentoring programs. In the words of my favorite children's book author, Sandra Boynton, there are so many choices. The world is immense. Take a good look around and decide what makes sense. The type of mentoring program you choose depends on the purpose of your program, so do what makes sense for your organization.
- The benefits of formal mentoring programs
- The types and purpose of mentoring programs
- Designing a framework and a needs assessment
- Creating a mentoring culture
- Ensuring organizational support
- Choosing participants
- Training essentials for mentors
- Concluding and celebrating your program
- Evaluating your program
- Making your mentoring program last