5 Types of Mentoring Relationships you need for your career
Mentoring is definitely a buzzword at the moment. Everyone seems to want a mentor and it has been sold as a quick way of gaining a whole heap of experience and lessons learnt from someone who has more experience than you.
However, to me, Mentoring is so much more than that. A good mentoring relationship should be bilateral, genuine and consistent. Above all, I think it is also important to recognise what you need a mentor for. Which area of your career do you need advice on? How can they help you? What do you have to offer?
In this post, I will outline the 5 types of mentoring relationships I believe everyone needs in their career and also list some resources to help you find a mentor. Enjoy!
5 Types of Mentoring Relationships you need for your career
Mentoring relationship #1: Traditional Mentor/Buddy
When most people think of a mentor they think of this relationship. Someone one or two grades/positions higher than them at work. Someone who works in your industry and someone who you can relate to as they have been in your position recently. You also want this person to be a high-achieving individual who inspires you and give you good advice on how to maintain a good career and also explain some of your industry and company unspoken rules.
Where to meet them: a high-performer in your organisation or at a competitor
What they can help you with: navigating the workplace, getting to know key people, your company’s do’s and don’ts, insight into their career so far
Mentoring relationship #2: Peer Mentors
Probably the most underrated mentoring relationship you can have is with your peers. How often do you practice being a peer mentor among your colleagues? Motivating and encouraging one another, spotting opportunities for each other, keeping each other accountable to your goals and aspirations.
Find colleagues at work you get on with and form a work squad. Encourage each other to do better, be a sounding board for new ideas, console each other when things aren’t so great.
For me, I know that I would find work a lot harder if I didn’t have peer mentors both in my company and other young professionals at other companies, so much so that I started a network so we could chat and meet on a more regular basis. Find out more about it here.
Where to meet them: people who started at the same time as you at your workplace ie. Other new grads that you trust and form a friendship with beyond the induction period, also by going to networking events you can meet other young professionals to add to your peer network
What they can help you with: being a sounding board for your ideas and workplace concerns, a group to discuss company or industry news together, share their network with you
Mentoring relationship #3: Reverse Mentors
Wherever you are at in your career, I really believe it is important that you have a reverse mentor. I.e. you are being mentored by someone younger than you. This may seem perverse to suggest young professionals have reverse mentors but with how fast innovation and the world is moving these days, I really believe it is imperative.
I have a reverse mentor who is a younger Gen Z and tells me about social media trends and what young people are into and interested in. It is honestly great. This relationship, of course, does not have to be formal or even labelled as a reverse mentorship but as long as you have someone who is relatively young (late teens) who can keep you informed, it is great. You can also help them out if they are interested in your career how you got to where you are at. Everyone has something to share.
Where to meet them: younger relatives, family friends or pupils from your secondary school
What they can help you with: learning from the next generation, trends, etc.
Mentoring relationship #4: Senior Mentor/Sponsor
In my opinion, a senior mentor or sponsor is someone at least 10 years ahead of you in your industry. Preferably they will work at the same organisation as you and can advise you on more strategic decisions to do with you career e.g. should I take on this new role? Should I go on this secondment? I am trying to move into area X who do you think I should reach out to? They have a wealth of experience to share with you and can definitely open doors for you once you have known them long enough.
Where to meet them: through networking at your company, via your traditional mentor, through a workplace scheme
What they can help you with: strategic career decisions, access to a more senior network
Mentoring relationship #5: Yourself
Mentors are overrated. In a world with unlimited access to resources such as self-help books, podcasts, biographies, blogs etc. there is absolutely no excuse not to educate yourself and become your own mentor. Through these resources, you can literally have Oprah speaking into your ears or be reading Richard Branson’s own words. Be your own mentor by writing down and tracking your goals. Carve out time to consume some of all the amazing content that is out there. And learn to actually listen, I really believe you can learn from anyone if you take the time out to listen to what they say and hear their perspective.
Where to meet them: in books, podcasts, YouTube etc. there is good content everywhere. You can see what I have been consuming recently here
What they can help you with: learning from some of the world’s greatest mentors!
Overall, I would say don’t just collect mentors for the hype. So many people have ‘mentors’ but don’t do anything to actually cultivate the relationships. Instead…
Take the time to find mentors that you have a genuine connection with and develop the relationship from there. — Tweet this
Finally, I would just like to say that it is not everyone that you should take advice from. In fact, I like to go by the mantra that you shouldn’t take advice from someone unless you would switch places with them. Mentors can also give bad advice so they are not a complete solution. In my opinion, mentors help best with providing advice on particular situations and occasionally topping up your confidence and motivation levels. You still have to do the work.
Overall, I think the best way to get a mentor is not via schemes or formal avenues. This is because the odds of you finding someone you truly get on with and have enough in common with to make it sustainable, are usually pretty slim. I love these schemes but I think you should view them as the last resort if you literally have no one around you (not literally) who can help you. Instead, go out there and seek a mentor by a) do your research on them — study their career trajectory, read their website etc. b) follow them on socials and interact with their content c) go to events they speak at etc.
Actions you can take today to start building these relationships
- Set-up or make a note of these mentoring relationships and ask yourself if you have them in place — consider how you can utilise formal schemes in your workplace or university if need be.
- Decided on a regular rhythm for checking in with your mentors/mentees.
- Document your learnings on a regular basis.
- Review your mentoring relationships yearly — some will naturally fade away which is fine!
- Your company/university mentorship schemes — most universities have mentoring schemes connecting recent alumni with current students so ask in your careers department. If you are working not studying, no worries as your company should also have a mentoring scheme. Maybe connecting recent joiners to someone a grade above or managers with junior employees. If not, set a mentoring scheme up :)
- LinkedIn mentoring/carer advice — haven’t used it much myself but LinkedIn have a cool relatively new career advice/mentoring feature. Find out more about it here.
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