Monday, April 23, 2012

Enhance Your Professional Development With Modern Mentoring Relationships

Tradition teaches us that what you get out of a mentoring relationship is knowledge transfer from an older more experienced individual to a younger less experienced individual. Nothing more, nothing less and that was enough.

A mentor provides...
Well, times have changed and so have our needs. People, especially women, want more flexibility and more options.
With that said, I present to you several mentoring relationship options: emersion mentoring, peer mentoring, e-mentoring, reverse mentoring, focused mentoring, MLM mentoring, and group mentoring. I’ve come across these relationship types through research and personal experience. Some I found outright, others I developed to better suit the needs of entrepreneurial women. The descriptions below will help you decide what kind of mentoring relationships will work best for your professional development.

My mentor and I
Emersion Mentoring focuses on using various activities that the mentor and mentee can do together to help the mentee better understand the mentors professional lifestyle. Networking events, small projects, and shadow days are some good activities to try. Emersion mentoring is perfect for the student or young professional who needs some career direction or would like to gain some experience.

Peer Mentoring does NOT require a designated mentor or mentee. Instead, the relationship consists of two people with a similar level of experience, similar point in their career, or common personal trait (heritage, single mother, disability, etc). Peer mentoring typically focuses on work/life balance and overcoming common professional obstacles. A familiar quote comes to mind: “Two heads are better than one.”

E-Mentoring is more of a way to carry out a mentoring relationship. In the past, e-mentoring was primarily email communication, but the ever changing online world has well, changed that. With all the online options available to us (Facebook, Skype, GoogleDocs, etc), there’s no reason why everyone can’t find the mentor that’s just right for them. When possible, I suggest supplementing e-mentoring with traditional meeting styles such as telephone and in person meetings.

Reverse Mentoring primarily benefits the experienced professional, but of course, in any mentoring relationship both parties benefit to some extent. The usual mentor/mentee roles are switched; in reverse mentoring the young professional is the mentor and the experienced professional is the mentee. This set up is designed to help the mentee stay up to date in a fast-changing world.

Focused Mentoring is usually characterized by a goal of getting comfortable with a specific subject or skill. For example, you may be apprehensive about networking at live events; with your focused mentor you can attend events together to see your mentor in action or your mentor can critique your actions! Decide what method works best for both mentor and mentee.

Mutual Learning Mentoring (MLM) focuses on matches that can lead to mutual growth and development. Ideally (and this is only a suggestion), the participants would be from the same industry and have complementing professions (marketer and graphic designer, writer and photographer). Like peer mentoring, there is no designated mentor or mentee.

Group Mentoring occurs when one experienced professional (the mentor) meets with more than one young professional simultaneously. Group mentoring is characterized by infrequent (monthly or less), informal meetings; since meetings are less frequent than other forms of mentoring, I recommend supplementing in person meetings with online communication to help foster a more meaningful relationship.

Create your own perfect relationship!
Mentoring relationships are all about learning and growth through reflection and feedback. You can try the above mentioned styles of mentoring as is or you can pull different characteristics from each and create a relationship that works best for you and the other parties of the relationship. For example, peer and mutual learning mentoring can be done in the form of infrequent meetings of 3-4 participants, but still maintain the no mentor/no mentee characteristic; the benefit here would be that although meetings are infrequent, you get more feedback in one group meeting than you would from one one to one meeting.

Which of these mentoring relationships would you like to try? Have you been in a mentoring relationship before? What was your experience?  

Share your thoughts with us!

#ShesaBoss and #theGB


  1. Well, I have been involved in f2f mentoring which I don't see you mention or allude to. If mentoring implies role modelling then perhaps you could tell me what all those have over f2f mentoring in another post. I like your writing style.It is engaging.

    1. Thank you for reading!

      F2F (Im assuming you're referring to Face to Face mentoring) is mentioned biefly in the last image (the chart).

      I was viewing f2f as a way to communicate with the parties in a mentoring relationship, which I actually believe f2f is the most ideal way to communicate in a mentoring relationship (or any other relationship for that matter).

      Mentoring is more than just role modeling and I don't think many people are aware of that. I think role modeling implies a single beneficiary, but in actuality all parties in a mentoring relationship should benefit to some extent.

      With any of the relationships I described it is possible to carry them out with a f2f format, but not neccessary. Again though, I think f2f communication is superior to other forms of communication so whenever possible try to communicate that way.

      I hope this helped! Let me know if it didn't or if you still have questions :)