Forms of mentorship

There are different forms of mentorship. It varies based on the structure, questions, answers, engagement, communication style, size, setting, and more.

Forms of mentorship

Mentorship occurs in various forms. We can look at it through different lenses.

  • Structure

  • Preferred questions (requests)

    • topic

    • specificity

  • Preferred answers (responses)

  • Engagement

  • Communication

    • delivery

    • type

    • frequency

  • Size

  • Setting

β€‹πŸ§± Structure

Do you prefer mentorship to be formal or keep it informal?

Formal

There is a formal structure of how the mentor-mentee relationship will occur. For example, when to meet, what to discuss, how to communicate, when to do so, and duration. There's a schedule as well as an agenda.

Informal

There is an informal structure. While there can be formal elements, the when and how things happen is more flexible and adaptable. There is no official commitment but instead occurs as needed.

​❔ Preferred question topic

Wha topics do you want to be asked about?

Broad

You welcome questions on broad topics. You are happy to talk about careers, advancing in roles, performance, relationships, and more.

See General Advice for more examples.

Narrow

You welcome questions on narrower topics. Such as questions specific to a programming language, product/service, a design philosophy, on a framework, etc.

See Specialized Advice for more examples.

​❓ Preferred question specificity

How specific would you like questions to be?

Open

You appreciate open-ended questions.

  • "What are your thoughts on X?"

  • "How would you handle this?"

  • "Any advice for someone wanting to do X?"

Specific

You appreciate specific, targeted questions.

  • "How do I set-up X, given that I tried Y, in the context of Z."

  • "In this scenario ..., would you do A or B, and why?"

  • "I'm trying to setup X in Y environment, but running into Z issue."

β€‹πŸ’¬ Preferred answers

What kind of answers/responses do you like to give?

General

Prefer to give open-ended answers, often responding with questions as well. Instead of giving full solutions, you give general opinions, thoughts, and guidance.

  • Have you thought about this?

Specialized

Prefer give specific answers. For example, "do X, then Y, then Z."

β€‹βš‘ Engagement

How engaged is each party.

Hands-off

The mentee drives the relationship. They set the frequency of when to meet, what to discuss. They reach out to the mentor when there's a question, require guidance, etc.

Hands-on

Both the mentor and mentee drive the mentoring relationship. Both work together to set the vision and goals of the relationship. The subtlety is that if the mentee stops reaching out, the mentor periodically checks in.

β€‹β˜Ž Communication delivery

Where do conversations take place?

Physical

Communicate in person.

Voice/Video

Communicate via phone/voice call or video chat.

Text-based

Communicate via email, chat applications, forums, social media and more.

β€‹πŸ”” Communication type

How long does each party have to wait before getting a reply?

Synchronous

Communicate in real-time.

  • in-person

  • voice

  • video

Asynchronous

There is a gap of time between responses.

  • email

  • social media

  • forums

  • text

β€‹πŸ“† Communication frequency

How often do you want to communicate?

Regularly

Communicate repeatedly in a predictable pattern.

Frequently

Communicate repeatedly, but not on a set schedule.

Occasionally

Communicate from time to time.

One-time

Communicate once (and that's okay!).

​πŸ‘₯ Size

How many mentees would you like to mentor at a time?

One-to-one

Mentor only one person at a time.

One-to-many

Mentor two or more people separately at the same time, either on similar or different areas.

Group

Mentor two or more people collectively at the same time.

Mentees are aware of one another and it occurs at the same time. This is more common in education-type sessions or in ask-me-anything scenarios. There's also an open forum in which responses benefit the entire group.

β€‹βœ¨ Setting

Peer-based

Mentorship organized by peers, helping one another accomplish respective goals. Think of it as an accountability or mastermind group.

One-off

Mentorship that occurs once and that is all. A question answered, a suggestion given. You may not think you mentored, but you did. This is equally valuable as repeated ones!

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