Mentoring can take several forms.
One-to-one mentoring consists of usually one but sometimes more than one mentee to each mentor, with each mentoring relationship existing independently.
Group mentoring (or mentoring circles)
Group mentoring typically consists of a group of several mentees and mentors, with the ratio of one mentor for every two to three mentees, but no individual mentor being allocated to a mentee.
The advantages of group mentoring are:
- efficient use of mentors, with a higher ratio of mentees to mentors
- the mentees in the group can build a rapport and integrate with colleagues
- the mentees can receive multiple sources of feedback
However, there are some disadvantages to group mentoring, such as:
- some people do not work well in a group environment
- there may be concerns about confidentiality
- the mentee has less or possibly no one-on-one contact with a mentor
Group mentoring has to be more structured than one-to-one mentoring as scheduling is necessary in order to accommodate everyone.
Peer learning alliances
Peer learning alliances (PLAs) have a different structure to standard peer mentoring in that there is no mentor or mentee.
Instead, both participants have similar levels of experience within the business - preferably in different areas - and each partner guides the other.
The purpose of a PLA is to:
- share experiences and knowledge
- challenge each other's assumptions
- act as a sounding board
- expand each other's networks
- provide a different point of view
If the mentor and mentee do not work in the same location, the mentoring may have to be done over the phone, using video conferencing, via email or social networking.