Mentoring Glossary: Every Term You Need to Know

We’ve made a list of the most common terms and buzzwords you are very likely to come across throughout your mentoring journey, whether you are a mentor, mentee, or program administrator!

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In mentoring, accountability refers to the mutual commitment between a mentor and mentee to follow through on agreed actions, enhancing the learning and development process.

Active Listening

A crucial skill for mentors, active listening involving fully concentrating, understanding, responding, and then remembering what the mentee says. This applies to mentees, too.

Affinity Circles

Groups formed around shared interests or identities in a workplace, which can foster informal mentoring relationships and support networks.



A peer or colleague assigned to a new employee or mentee to provide guidance and support during the initial adjustment period.

Buddy System

A buddy system is where individuals are assigned a ‘buddy’ to help with learning new tasks, adjusting to new environments, or for mutual support.


Career Advancement

The process of moving up in one’s career, often involving gaining new skills, experiences, and responsibilities.

Career Aspiration

A person’s long-term career goals or ambitions define their career aspirations.

Career Change

The act of moving from one career or professional path to another, often requiring new skills and adjustments.

Career Conversation

Discussions focused on an individual’s career goals, aspirations, and planning strategies to achieve them.

Career Mapping

With career mapping, employees and managers work together to create a strategic plan that outlines the steps or milestones needed to reach career goals.

Career Mentoring

A career mentoring relationship is one that’s focused on the mentee’s professional growth and advancement within their career.

Career Path

A career path is the progression or sequence of jobs and roles an individual might take on in their career.

Career Progression

The advancement or upward movement within one’s career over time, often involving promotions and new job roles.


A coach (and especially a performance coach) is a person who provides guidance, support, and encouragement to develop specific skills and achieve goals.


Coaching is the developmental process where a coach supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional competence. It’s notably different from but falls within the same development scheme as mentoring.

This Mentoring Soundbites video explores the concept of mentoring vs. coaching vs. sponsorship in more depth.


Working together with mentors or peers to achieve shared goals or complete tasks.


The assurance that personal or sensitive information shared within a mentoring relationship remains private.

Constructive Feedback

Insightful, actionable feedback provided to help an individual improve and grow. See also Criticism.

Corporate Mentoring Program

A corporate mentorship program is a structured program that exists within an organization designed to pair mentors with mentees to support employee development.

Cross-Cultural Mentoring

This involves mentoring relationships where the mentor and mentee come from different cultural backgrounds, focusing on the exchange of cultural insights and enhancing diversity awareness.


Feedback that can be negative or positive, focusing on evaluating someone’s work or behavior.


Developmental Mentoring

A mentoring approach focused on the personal and professional growth of the mentee over time.

Digital Skills

Competencies in using digital technologies effectively, often a focus area for mentoring in today’s workplace.

Dropout Rate

In mentoring programs, it refers to the percentage of participants who leave the program before completion.



Mentoring that takes place through electronic means, such as email, messaging platforms, or video calls.

Employee Development

Employee development consists of activities or programs aimed at improving an employee’s skills, knowledge, and abilities for their current job and future roles.

Employee Resource Groups (ERG)

Employee Resource Groups, sometimes shorted as “ERGs”, are Volunteer groups within organizations where employees with shared characteristics or interests provide support and promote diversity.


The process of becoming more confident and assertive in one’s abilities, often a goal of mentoring.


Your employee engagement in mentoring programs is the level of involvement and enthusiasm that mentees show towards their mentoring program and activities.

Enterprise Mentoring

Enterprise mentoring programs are designed for employees within an organization, focusing on professional development and organizational goals.

Experience Sharing

A key aspect of mentoring where mentors share their own experiences, insights, and lessons learned with their mentees.



Information provided about someone’s performance or behavior, intended to guide future improvements. This is often accomplished through survey questions intended to draw out how mentors and mentees feel about the program.

Flash Mentoring

Short-term, focused mentoring sessions aimed at addressing specific questions or learning needs. See also Micro Mentoring.

Formal Mentoring

A formal mentoring program is one that’s structured with clearly defined objectives, schedules, and outcomes.

Functional Skills Mentoring Program

A program focused on developing specific skills required for effective performance in particular job functions. Sales mentorship programs are a common example of a mentoring program focused on functional skills.


Goal Setting

Goal setting in mentoring involves defining clear, specific objectives to guide the mentee’s development and measure progress towards achieving personal and professional aspirations. See also SMART Goals and REAL Goals.

Group Mentoring

A group mentoring format is where one or more mentors work with multiple mentees, fostering peer learning and group dynamics.


Advice or information provided by a mentor to help a mentee navigate professional challenges and opportunities.


Hard Skills

Specific, teachable abilities or skill sets that are easily quantifiable, such as data analytics, coding, programming, or accounting.

High-Potential Mentoring Program

High-potential mentoring programs are designed to develop employees who were identified as having the potential for significant growth and leadership roles.


Industry Knowledge

Understanding of the specific trends, challenges, and practices within a particular industry, often shared by mentors.

Industry Skills

The specific abilities and competencies required to perform effectively in a particular industry sector.

Informal Mentoring

Unstructured mentoring relationships that develop naturally, without formal objectives or schedules.


Job Interview

A formal job interview is a conversation between a job applicant and a potential employer to assess the applicant’s suitability for a position.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is a learning experience where an individual observes a professional in their job role to gain insights into that career.


Knowledge Sharing

A knowledge-sharing culture is one where the exchange of skills, information, and experiences between individuals is a key component of mentoring relationships.


Leadership Development

Leadership development in mentoring consists of programs or activities focused on developing an individual’s ability to lead effectively.

Leadership Development Mentoring Program

A structured program aimed at enhancing the leadership skills and potential of employees. The benefits of a leadership development program are seen in better employee engagement and retention.

Learning Goals

Specific objectives set by a mentee or within a mentoring program to acquire new knowledge or skills.

Long-Term Goals

With long-term goals, objectives are set to be achieved over an extended period, often focusing on career advancement or significant personal development.


Matching Process

The matching process in mentoring programs is method used in mentoring programs to pair mentors with mentees based on shared interests, goals, and other factors.

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Meeting Cadence

The meeting cadence is the frequency and schedule of meetings between a mentor and mentee. It’s critical for maintaining momentum in the relationship.


A mentee is an individual receiving guidance, advice, and support in a mentoring relationship.


A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser who provides guidance, support, and knowledge to a less experienced person.

Mentor-Mentee Matching

Mentor-mentee matching is the process of pairing mentors with mentees based on compatibility in goals, interests, or needs.

Mentor-Mentee Pair

The combination of one mentor and one mentee in a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Activity

Mentoring activities, like job shadowing, are specific actions or tasks undertaken as part of the mentoring process to achieve learning goals.

Mentoring Agreement

A formal or informal mentoring agreement outlines the expectations, goals, and responsibilities within a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Circle

A mentoring circle is a group mentoring format where multiple mentees and mentors interact, share experiences, and learn together.

Mentoring Culture

An organizational mentoring culture is one that supports and values the practice of mentoring within its workforce.

Mentoring Ethics

Principles and standards of conduct that govern the mentoring relationship, ensuring it is conducted with integrity, respect, and responsibility.

Mentoring Format

The structure and method of a mentoring relationship, which can be one-to-one, group, formal, or informal.

Mentoring Framework

Your mentoring framework is the overarching structure, policies, and guidelines that govern how mentoring is conducted within your organization.

Mentoring Frequency

The meeting frequency is how often mentoring sessions or interactions occur, which can vary based on the needs and availability of the participants. See also Meeting Cadence.

Mentoring Goals

The mentoring goals are the objectives set within a mentoring relationship, focusing on the development and growth of the mentee.

Mentoring Journey

Someone’s mentoring journey is their overall experience and progression through a mentoring relationship, from beginning to end.

Mentoring Objective

A program’s mentoring objectives are the specific aims or purposes set out at the beginning of a mentoring relationship or program. See also Mentoring Goals.

Mentoring Partner

Either a mentor or mentee in a mentoring relationship, each playing a role in the other’s development.

Mentoring Plan

The mentoring plan is a detailed outline of the goals, activities, and timelines agreed upon in a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Process

A mentoring process consists of a series of steps and activities involved in establishing and maintaining a mentoring relationship.

Mentoring Program

A mentoring program is an organized scheme that pairs mentors with mentees to achieve specific learning or development outcomes.

Mentoring Question

Mentoring questions are the inquiries posed by a mentor or mentee to facilitate discussion, reflection, and learning.

Mentoring Relationship

A mentoring relationship is the dynamic interaction between mentor and mentee, characterized by trust, guidance, and mutual growth.

Mentoring Session

A scheduled meeting or interaction between mentor and mentee to discuss progress, challenges, and next steps.

Mentoring Software

Mentoring software consists of digital tools designed to facilitate the management and operation of mentoring programs and relationships – like MentorcliQ!

Learn more about the value of mentoring software right here 👇!

Mentoring Style

The approach or method a mentor uses in their mentoring relationships, which can vary from directive (providing specific advice and guidance) to non-directive (facilitating the mentee’s own problem-solving and decision-making skills).

Mentoring Tool

Mentoring tools are the resources or aids used to support and enhance the mentoring process, such as guides, templates, or software platforms.


The overall system, process, or relationship in which a more experienced or knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or knowledgeable person.


Micro-mentoring is a brief, focused mentoring interaction aimed at addressing specific issues or questions, without a long-term commitment. See also Flash Mentoring.



Often one of the primary goals of mentoring programs and ERGs, networking is the act of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts, often facilitated through mentoring.


Occupational Wellness

Occupational wellness is the overall satisfaction and well-being one feels in their professional life, which mentoring can enhance.


The process of integrating a new employee into an organization, often supported by mentoring to accelerate learning and adjustment.

Onboarding Mentor Program

An onboarding mentor program is a specific type of mentoring aimed at helping new employees acclimate to their roles and the company culture. See also Buddy System.

One-To-One Mentoring

A mentoring format where one mentor is paired with one mentee, allowing for personalized guidance and support.



An individual at a similar level or position within an organization or field, often involved in peer mentoring relationships.

Peer Coaching

A type of mentoring where colleagues at similar levels help each other to learn and develop, without a hierarchical relationship.

Peer Mentoring

With peer mentoring, individuals of similar status or stage in their careers provide mutual support and learning. This format is often very effective in situations where there are a limited number of mentors available, and for onboarding programs.

People Development

The broad activities involved in improving the capabilities, skills, and effectiveness of individuals within an organization.

Performance Coaching

A performance coach is a specific type of coaching situation that’s aimed at improving an individual’s performance in specific areas of their work.

Personal Development

The process of self-improvement in terms of skills, knowledge, and personal qualities.

Professional Development

Activities that enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge, and expertise needed for their professional life.


Another term for a mentee, especially in a formal mentoring program or relationship.

Psychological Safety

The concept of psychological safety is one where people have a sense of confidence that the team or work environment is safe for interpersonal risk-taking, crucial for open mentoring relationships.


REAL Goals

REAL Goals stands for: Robust, Enduring, Achievable, and Learning-oriented goals that are designed to be meaningful and sustainable over time.


The process of finding and hiring the best-qualified candidate for a job opening, in which mentoring can play a role in attracting and retaining talent.


The process of thinking deeply about one’s experiences, actions, and learning. This is often encouraged within mentoring to enhance growth.

Remote Mentoring

With remote mentoring, the mentor and mentee are not physically co-located. Instead, they are often facilitated by digital communication tools. See also E-Mentoring.


The process of reskilling happens when one learns new skills so they can do a different job, or to keep up with changes in their current job.


Retention is a company’s ability of an organization to keep its employees from leaving, which effective mentoring programs can enhance by improving job satisfaction and engagement.

Reverse Feedback

The process where mentees also provide feedback to their mentors, fostering a two-way learning process and enhancing the mentor’s understanding of the mentee’s perspective.

Reverse Mentoring

The reverse mentoring approach is one where a less experienced employee mentors a more senior one, often to share new perspectives or technological skills.

Role Model

A person who serves as an example, whose behavior, example, or success can be emulated by others, especially, but not exclusively, by younger people.


Self-Directed Learning

Encouraged within some mentoring relationships, this is where the mentee takes initiative in their own learning process, setting their own goals and finding resources to learn new skills or knowledge.

Short-Term Goals

Objectives set to be achieved in the near future, which are often stepping stones towards longer-term aspirations.

Skill Development

Skill development is the process of identifying and cultivating new abilities and competencies. It’s often a key focus of many mentoring relationships.

Skills Gap

The difference between the skills required for a job and the actual skills possessed by the employees.


SMART Goals are those that are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. They provide clear objectives and timelines.

Social Learning

Social learning is learning that takes place within a social context, often through observing, mimicking, or discussing with others, such as in mentoring situations.

Soft Skills

Soft skills are personal attributes and interpersonal skills that enable individuals to navigate their environment, work well with others, and achieve their goals effectively.


An influential person who actively advocates for an individual’s career advancement within an organization.


Employee sponsorship is the support provided by a sponsor, often involving the use of influence to open opportunities for the protégé.

Succession Planning

When engaging in succession planning, leaders follow a process of identifying and developing new leaders who can replace old leaders when they leave, retire or pass away.

Success Metrics

Quantifiable measures are used to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of mentoring relationships and programs. This is typically seen through mentoring ROI data.

Learn how to measure success in mentoring programs with this quick video.


The assistance or encouragement provided by a mentor to a mentee, facilitating their personal and professional growth.


Talent Development

Talent development consists of organizational efforts focused on identifying and nurturing individuals with the potential to significantly contribute to the organization’s success.

Technical Skills

The specific knowledge and abilities required to perform professional tasks, often a focus of skill-based mentoring.

Traditional Mentoring

A traditional mentoring framework typically consists of a 1-to-1 mentoring engagement where the mentor has more experience or tenure than the mentee. E.g., a “senior-junior” relationship in a single paired setting.


The firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone, essential for the foundation of any mentoring relationship.



The process of learning or teaching new skills, especially in a professional context.


Virtual Mentoring

Virtual mentoring is the kind of mentoring that is conducted through digital platforms, allowing mentors and mentees to connect regardless of geographical location. See also E-Mentoring.