Mentoring has been around for a long time. A student-teacher relationship is what comes to mind when one thinks about the traditional mentoring structure - an older employee with more experience and wisdom imparting it to a keen young employee. However, with changing times, mentoring structure and programs have undergone a transformation as well.
New types of Mentoring Programs
Organizations should add new types of mentoring programs to keep the multi-generational workforce engaged and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing. Here are some non-traditional mentoring programs to explore.
This type of mentoring provides younger employees an opportunity to share their knowledge with older employees. In reverse mentoring, an early career professional acts as a mentor to a senior leader who has considerable professional experience. The information shared is usually centered around technology, culture and mindsets.
As a mentee, the senior leader gets a chance to understand the changing needs of an evolving workforce. Reverse mentoring can increase cultural sensitivity. It can break set patterns of how work has been done over the years and breathe new life into outdated processes. The mentee can discover a new approach to problem solving by looking through the new lens of the mentor. Reverse mentoring also provides the mentee with a glimpse of the consumer behavior of the new generation; their trends, preferences, attitudes, choices and opinions towards work and life.
The mentor benefits from the direct interaction with a senior leader as they can learn leadership skills by observing the behavior of their mentee and how they manage dynamic matters that arise at the workplace. The younger mentors also develop a sense of belonging as their voices are heard. They feel proud to be associated with a generationally inclusive company that is open to change. Reverse mentoring programs can add a lot of value to organizations that have a multigenerational workforce.
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are internal communities within the organization for employees who share the same background or interests. ERG mentoring can be of different types. Intra-ERG mentoring is when the mentor and mentee belong to the same ERG. It can be traditional mentoring or peer-to-peer mentoring. It is effective for new hires to learn more from their mentors or peers who they can identify with while settling into their new roles. It can also help in career planning and progression of underrepresented groups. Inter-ERG mentoring is when the mentor and mentee belong to different ERGs. It helps in cross-cultural knowledge sharing and leads to more empathy and understanding at the workplace. ERG to community mentoring is when an ERG member is a mentor to mentees belonging to a community outside in the organization. This type of mentoring can provide representation and role models to the youth. Additionally, an ERG member can be aligned to be a mentor to senior leaders to share experiences and challenges faced by ERG members and contribute to the DEI strategy of the organization.
In a world where short-form content has taken over, organizations need to adapt and offer short-term mentoring opportunities. Flash mentoring is one such mentoring format where a mentor and mentee are matched for a short duration to address a specific topic. Traditional mentoring programs usually carry on for months but flash mentoring is wrapped up in one or two meetings with targeted conversations. It facilitates more interactions between mentors and mentees as it does not require a long-term commitment. It can fit into the busy schedules of senior management. Mentees can get the information they need by asking the right questions. Speed mentoring is similar to flash mentoring with a few differences in logistics.
Organizations need to spend time revamping their mentoring programs and including different formats and structures to keep employees engaged. Mentoring program managers should be on the lookout for creative ways to pair mentors and mentees and use mentoring software to increase efficiency.