Which mentor is right for you?
Deciding to find a mentor can be exciting, liberating, and scary—all at the same time. Who should you ask? What should you focus on? How will you know if it’s a good fit? One more question to add to your list: What type of mentor should you look for?
Mentoring is dynamic, personal, and fluid. These relationships are also exceptionally beneficial given workers now want to feel a sense of belonging within their organization, which starts with relationship-building formats like mentoring. They should suit your needs and change as needed over time. The idea of a personal board of advisors is often used to describe how multiple mentors can create a network that you rely on for different things at different times. Each mentor on your board of advisors brings with them a unique perspective, skillset, and history of experiences that you can leverage. The makeup of your personal board of advisors will depend entirely upon the types of mentors you seek out and connect with. While many people picture an older, more senior person as a mentor, the rise of reverse mentoring has flipped that image on its head.
So what are some other ideas for who can be a mentor? Here are seven types of mentors you could look for in your organization as you embark upon a mentoring relationship.
A traditional mentor is someone who fits the idea most closely associated with mentoring: An older, more senior individual in your organization who has more experience than you do in a certain area. It’s important to note here, however, that you shouldn’t be afraid of the word “traditional”.
We regularly highlight the difficulties that exist with traditional mentoring programs, for example, but traditional mentoring relationships are a separate matter. These 1-to-1 engagements are exceptionally rewarding for both mentors and mentees and will work within any type of mentoring program.
The mentor in a reverse mentoring relationship is the (typically, but not always) younger, less senior person in the organization. The key here, though, is that they are still the more experienced person in some critical area that the mentee (the older, more senior individual) wants to learn about. Don’t get hung up on age, though. The person could be the same age as you or even older; it has more to do with where you both fit in the hierarchy of your organization.
A real benefit to reverse mentoring relationships is that you form connections with more senior colleagues who can help advocate for you and open doors for you as you develop in your career. Many junior employees leave or are considering leaving when they don’t see clear pathways to career advancement. Reverse mentoring relationships can put you on leaderships’ radar, which is essential when new roles or opportunities arise within your organization.
Which Types of Mentoring Do You Need?
- What are my current life, career, or organizational goals do you have?
- What skills or experience gaps do I have that are keeping me from achieving those goals?
- What type of mentor will help me achieve those goals or close those gaps?
Let’s say that you’re an executive at a large company. You know that your younger employees want to see DEI more highly valued among the leadership team, but you’re not sure where to start or even what diversity, equity, or inclusion concerns should be top-of-mind for your organization. Acknowledging your own lack of knowledge and experience in this area, you may find that you need a Reverse Mentor. This would likely be a junior-level member of your organization who can help navigate you through DEI and perhaps even help you successfully launch a DEI initiative.
Can junior employees make good mentors? Absolutely! Mentoring success is often not about someone’s age or tenure within an organization, but the personal life experiences and skills they bring to the table.
We can also look at this from a junior-level employee’s perspective. Perhaps you’ve just started out at a new company, but you’re feeling lost. Your company hired you based on your experience, but the organization uses tools and processes that are completely unfamiliar to you. You know how to do the core of your work, but you’re afraid you may fail to meet your objectives if you can’t figure out your company’s unique tools and ways of doing work. A Practical Mentor may be exactly what you need. This is someone in your organization who you know has experience in the areas you currently lack who can help you work through your issues in a meaningful and targeted way.
Mentoring Programs Benefit Mentors and Mentees
Whether you’re at the top of your organization or a junior in the company, mentoring programs can go a long way to fostering the type of development necessary to succeed. Having different types of mentors available within a structured mentoring program can quickly and easily solve critical issues. Whether you need personal development, professional development, or want to solve organizational problems, mentoring relationships with both open and closed programs can provide the space to learn from individuals who have exactly the skills and experience you need.
Do you want to see how mentoring programs powered by mentoring software can help support your mentors and help your mentoring program take off? Connect with MentorcliQ to learn more.