Completing a review of your evidence base means you can take an informed decision about the type of programme you want to create.

Part of designing your programme is considering the relationship you want to create between participants, and the nature of those interactions they have. You should do this in parallel with deciding who is eligible for your programme.

Mentoring relationships

There are many kinds of mentoring relationship you could create with your programme.

The type of relationship you base your programme on can significantly affect the outcomes you are able to achieve. You can think through the consequences of different relationships by constructing your logic model.

Regardless of your chosen approach, the relationship will ultimately be based on the relationship between a mentor – the person who, mostly, is sharing their skills, knowledge or experience – and the mentee – the person who, mostly, is looking to learn from others.

Traditional mentoring

In a traditional mentoring programme, a senior or experienced participant acts as a mentor to a more junior or less experienced participant (the mentee).

Traditional mentoring can be particularly helpful to:

  • inspire mentees and show the possibilities ahead of them in their career
  • provide advice to mentees on career progression or career change
  • help the mentee develop new skills they might not yet have

The guidance, tools and resources on this website assume that you are looking to create a traditional, one-to-one mentoring programme.

Reverse mentoring

A reverse mentoring relationship reverses the dynamics of traditional mentoring. Junior participants act as mentees and senior participants act as mentors.

Reverse mentoring can be particularly helpful to:

  • help senior leaders of organisations understand what their employees experience in their workplaces from day-to-day
  • provide a voice for under-represented groups within an organisation, so they can highlight areas for improvement directly to senior staff

Peer-to-peer mentoring

In peer-to-peer mentoring relationships, participants of similar seniority and experience act as both the mentor and the mentee.

Peer-to-peer mentoring can be particularly helpful to:

  • provide support through important moments early on in part of a participant’s career stage, such as starting a new role
  • share ideas and feedback on different approaches to common problems participants are facing

Unlike traditional or reverse mentoring, where participants tend to interact one-to-one, peer-to-peer mentoring is suitable both for one-to-one interactions or for small groups.

Mentoring interactions

Choosing the kind of interaction your participants have will affect the outcomes they achieve from your mentoring programme.

Speed mentoring

Speed mentoring interactions tend to be short and one-off. A speed mentoring session could last as little as 5 or 10 minutes, or could last an hour or two.

Mentoring programmes that use speed mentoring might be designed to create:

  • matches between a mentee and a single speed mentor
  • multiple matches, so that a mentee meets with several speed mentors

As they are rapid and one-off, speed mentoring sessions are best suited to exploring one specific topic or issue.

Long-term mentoring

Long-term mentoring interactions tend to stretch over multiple sessions and multiple months. The specific arrangements for these sessions might be heavily guided by the mentoring programme coordinators, but they are more likely a flexible arrangement agreed between the mentor and mentee to suit their individual needs.

As long-term mentoring interactions are repeated over time, they can be more suitable to exploring many issues in significant detail.

Case study

Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme

The Civil Service LGBT+ mentoring programme was a ‘traditional’ mentoring programme, pairing junior mentees to senior mentors.

The programme used both speed mentoring and long-term mentoring. In the first stage, mentees were matched with up to 3 mentors for 30 minute speed mentoring sessions. During these sessions, mentees could either:

  • explore a specific topic as a one-off piece of mentoring, or
  • use the session to decide if their speed mentor might be a good long-term mentor to work with

If participants did the latter, and they found a match, they were encouraged to meet their long-term mentor every 4 to 8 weeks, for up to an hour, for up to a year.