We say mentor; you think Yoda, Mr Miyagi or Dumbldore (oh, just us? As you were, then). Your free time, your movie choices.
The point is, mentoring usually conjures up a character like Yoda (just saying…) calmly offering up wise, insightful advice to the protagonist. In turn, said hero battles their inner and outer demons to overcome a potentially catastrophic challenge. Cue the montage, emotional music and happy(ish) ending.
But mentoring is more than that. Over at Strivin HQ, we focus on 3 styles:
- Peer mentoring – when you connect with a network of similar professionals and support each other with advice, insights and learning opportunities.
- Group mentoring – an open forum run by an experienced mentor with a group of other professionals.
- 1-2-1 mentoring – the ‘traditional’ setup of a more experienced person (Mr Miyagi, obvs) supporting someone who’s at an earlier stage of their career.
So what’s the right mentoring match for you? Can we delve into everything a bit more? Could the movie analogy please cease?
Yes, yes and maybe.
Peer mentoring is a bit like gathering all your work wives in one place and helping each other through the ups and downs of your careers. You’re ‘matched’ with 5 or 6 other professionals working in similar roles, and meet regularly to unpick tricky topics, share ideas and act as sounding boards for one another.
And, because it’s the same people meeting each time, you can build on previous discussions and share the outcomes of the particular challenge you were facing (did the group’s advice work? What did you learn?)
In the end, it’s about expanding your network in a collaborative environment and feeling like you’ve got a safe space to take your work worries (and wins, of course – it’s not all doom and gloom!)
While similar to peer mentoring, group mentoring is more of an open forum. Anyone can rock up to the sessions, so it’s the ideal opportunity to meet different people and make connections outside of your industry.
An experienced, Yoda-like (we promised nothing) mentor facilitates the session and, rather than focusing on a specific topic (like peer mentoring does), any question or problem can be asked or shared. Then, as a group, you workshop the issues together.
Different perspectives can often jolt us out of those stale voids we all find ourselves in sometimes and, for a 60-90 minute investment, it’s worth trying, right?
The idea here is to match a mentor with a mentee, based on what each person wants to get out of the relationship. Whatever the goals, it’s about giving and receiving advice, guidance and insights at regular catch ups.
By the very nature of 1-2-1, it’s a more intense, focused experience – i.e. you can’t hide in the background! But it’s the ideal platform to develop, crystallise and achieve a mentee’s goals which, um, is probably why people sign up in the first place.
And, while we tend to think of mentoring as purely benefiting the mentee, that’s not actually true. In fact, it’s often an incredible opportunity for mentors to hone their leadership skills, share their experiences and grow their networks.
The best part? These relationships often remain long after people have moved on from jobs, companies and industries.
How do I know what’s right for me?
Good question! To that we say…how long is a piece of string?
Yes, we know. What an annoying answer.
The thing is, there’s no right answer. It’s really about asking yourself why you’re thinking about mentoring, what you want to get out of it and how your personality plays into it.
For example, if you’re looking to take your next career step, 1-2-1 is probably your best bet.
Never done mentoring before, but want to throw a few problems out there and see how other people have dealt with them? Start with group mentoring.
Prefer group situations, but want to stick to the same people each session? Peer mentoring is a great option.
There really are no hard and fast rules, though. Most importantly, there’s no harm in trying a bit of everything to see what clicks for you. Indeed, we encourage that approach!
Mentoring your way
Suffice to say, we can’t tell you what to do (or even to get involved in mentoring at all), so…we won’t. But, if career development, network building and new skills get you excited, then it could be time to make your mentoring debut.
Ready for more? Sign to Strivin today to meet your mentor or mentee match!