During a recent needs analysis meeting with a client, we spent some time determining the purpose of mentoring in their organisation. This is one of the first questions in the needs analysis process and a critical determination to make before deciding on other programme processes. As well as getting really clear on the purpose for their programme, part of our conversation also focused on how to manage multiple purposes within the one programme.

From my research and experience working with organisations to help them establish mentoring programmes, here is what I think……

The purpose of mentoring in your organisation is determined by the mentee’s needs, which are aligned with your organisation’s strategic goals

Common mentoring models

There can be several mentoring models operating within the one programme which provide the structure to support the purpose – the choice of model will be informed by the purpose of the mentoring support.

Models can include the expert-novice relationship, peer mentoring partnerships, and different iterations of group mentoring such as mentoring hubs, team mentoring, mentoring circles, Communities of Practice (CoP), and Community of Learning Groups (CoLG). There is nothing stopping you from having several models operating at one time; the key is that the model supports the purpose.

Which model for which purpose?

A new employee in the organisation will initially need support and guidance in familiarising themselves with the job, their colleagues, and organisational systems and processes. The expert-novice model is often the model of choice in this scenario, as the new employee (the mentee) is largely dependent on a more experienced staff member (the mentor) helping them navigate the new environment and job expectations.

You may have a group of emerging leaders and you have decided a mentoring programme targeted at building their capabilities as leaders would be of huge benefit. You could apply the group mentoring model or the expert-novice model, i.e., bringing the emerging leaders together in a CoLG or pairing the emerging leader with a more experienced leader.

Or the purpose may be quite broad, for example, ‘increase staff retention’, in which case your mentoring programme can be open to all staff and incorporate several models.

The emerging leader, the new employee, staff in general who want to receive mentoring support can all be participants in your programme. You will just have different models framing their mentoring relationships based on the different purposes of the mentoring support.