Mentoring has the power to help you at any stage if your life and business. To make the most from this it is really important to know what type of mentoring will be the best solution for you. So here I have shared explanations of the main three ways mentoring works and then the most common types of mentoring relationships to help you decide.
It's really worth mentioning here that whatever you decide is right for you right now will work. Going forward at any time as things change in your life and business other types of mentoring may be more valuable for you. It is also possible to have more than one mentoring relationship at a time. This can work however it's not normally a solution I recommend as I have seen the journey that people take through mentoring and often more than one mentor can be too much for people to get the most from the experience.
Mentoring types generally falls into three key areas:
Life mentoring – This is also known as personal mentoring. This type of mentoring focuses in you as an individual and where you want to be. It will often include elements of your job or business to explore areas such as work life balance or difficult working relationships but only where those areas impact on you as an individual. This type of mentoring is especially valuable at key life stages e.g. serious illness, a general sense of wanting more from your life, divorce, redundancy and retirement.
Career/educational mentoring – This type of mentoring is where you want to get to the next stage of leaning and development for your educational and career goals. Whilst it is often used for aspiring leaders/students with extra potential it is helpful for anyone to support them manage their work or study commitments well. It has proved a useful tool for those disengaged too although in those cases it tends to be more of a life mentoring session with the emphasis on the outcomes that relate to the disengagement e.g. Dropping out of college.
Enterprise Mentoring – This is also known as business mentoring. This is why a key person in a business has mentoring to help the business at any stage of its cycle. This is from pre-start stages then, start up, growth or exit/succession planning. Whilst it focusses on the business the individual’s leadership skills will also be explored. This is a brilliant tool therefore if you want to develop both yourself and your business. It combines well with other forms of business support especially training.
Once you have decided which type of mentoring is the right one for you at the time then the next decision is which delivery method you will feel most comfortable with. There are many ways all of which work so I have covered here the main ones that you are likely to see.
Delivery Methods of Mentoring:
One to one face to face mentoring – This is still the most popular delivery and with good reason. Most of what we communicate is nonverbal so by being with someone an experienced mentor will be able to notice areas that need exploring more easily and help you come to your own conclusions.
One to one with remote channels – This can use phone/Skype/ mail etc. This is a great solution where time and distance are challenges. Greater care is needed to set frameworks and the relationship up. It can make the interactions faster and more intense which works well for some whilst others need more thinking and reflection time. It often works best when you have already met face to face first or as part of your overall mentoring relationship.
Peer to peer mentoring – This is where a small group of people mentor each other. Often they take turns to bring one issue to the table. I have seen great examples of this and it really brings people together. It does needs very careful management and structure. Great structure and facilitation is key otherwise individuals can feel left out or overwhelmed as they have too many conflicting questions and ideas with the greater number of people involved.
Speed mentoring – These are mini sessions where you either have one to one taster sessions or meet a mentor (often a specialist) at a quick round table with others. This is best for a quick input and review on something important to you or to explore whether you feel mentoring is the right solution for you.
Specialist mentoring – This most often occurs with enterprise mentoring where you have limited mentoring sessions for a particular issue whilst often you still stay with your overall mentor. This is especially valuable to think through big changes such as trading internationally or expanding your digital capability where often one session will help you think things through and your overall mentor then supports you in taking that thinking through all parts of your business.
Reverse mentoring – This is most often used in career mentoring. It is where a senior colleague is mentored by a more junior colleague. It is often used when one is very senior looking at areas such as strategy and planning head office work and the junior colleague is in a front line position. The benefits are that both see a different point of view and develop through that whilst also improving the organisation. However, whilst I have seen this work well on occasion it is not a solution I would often recommend as the vulnerabilities and protocols needed to protect and support the junior mentor need considerable care.
Swap mentoring – This is where 2 individuals both have mentoring skills and have knowledge in complementary areas. This can work brilliantly as a trusted relationship where you both support each other. It can be great fun and very rewarding. The downside is the amount of time needed as you have to act as both mentee and mentor.
Supply chain/client mentoring - This is where an organisation mentors their stakeholders. It has huge benefits as it upskills both the individuals involved as well as bringing overall relationships and understanding together. This option works best with full facilitation and programme management.
Whatever option you choose I am totally convinced that you will gain benefit. I hope this helps you decide the right option for you. Mentoring works 😊
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