If you have not yet selected a mentoring coordinator, you may wish to look at Module 4 – Building a program team before starting this module.
After reading this section you should:
● understand the different possible approaches to mentoring
● know which mentoring approach is best suited to your situation.
Key questions to ask yourself
What are your motivations and objectives for running a mentoring program?
What sort of mentoring relationship is needed to achieve these?
Approximately how many people will participate as mentees or mentors, and for how long?
What are the opportunities and constraints associated with your situation (as identified in Module 1 – Getting started)?
Do you want to have a cohort or ongoing mentoring matching?
As you have learned in Module 1 – Getting started, your approach to mentoring will be guided by your own situation, values, and objectives. While mentoring programs come in many diverse forms, we have identified four main approaches that can be adapted to your situation:
1. Face-to-face mentoring
2. Online/remote mentoring
3. Event-based mentoring (event-only)
4. Event-based mentoring (long-term).
While these can have some overlap – for example, a face-to-face program would likely involve some element of online communication to sustain the mentoring relationship; and event-based mentoring, by definition, involves a face-to-face connection between the mentoring participants – selecting and understanding your overarching approach to mentoring is a crucial first step in designing your program.
Face-to-face, online, and event-based mentoring should be thought of as broad approaches that you can adapt to your specific mentoring situation and objectives. Each of these approaches has its own set of benefits and challenges.
Your choice of approach may also be influenced by the scale of program you wish to run. In this context, scale refers to the time scale (how long mentees and mentors are committing for) and geographic scale (where people will be based), as well as the number of participants you want to involve.
Table 1 below summarises the four mentoring approaches, and presents some key questions and case studies to help guide your decision making.
Questions to consider
Event-based mentoring (events-only)
● Youth in Landscapes Initiative Mentoring Program at the 2015 Global Landscapes Forum (GLF)
Event-based mentoring (long-term)
As above, with exception of final point (requirement for additional resources and/or funding)
Mentees and mentors may be located in different countries/regions, posing challenges for ongoing communication and engagement (as with online/remote mentoring)
How would you establish and facilitate this ongoing mentoring relationship?
● Young Agripreneurs Project (YAP) at the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD3)
Mentoring is often thought about as a one-on-one relationship, with a more experienced mentor matched to a more junior or inexperienced mentee. However, this is just one of type of mentoring relationship.
Group mentoring can involve one or more mentors supporting a group of mentees. In this case, the group of mentees usually have a collective goal, such as a team of young professionals working together on a project, or a group of students learning particular course content, with the mentor supporting them towards that goal.
Peer-to-peer mentoring can also take a group approach. Here, “peers” are thought of as people of similar standing, whether in terms of age or level of experience (or both!). In group peer-to-peer mentoring, all participants varyingly take on the roles of both mentee and mentor. This approach may be a good option when community building, or increasing collaboration and knowledge sharing, is a key goal.
However, group mentoring can also occur naturally and more informally, such as between individual mentees or mentors participating in the same mentoring program. This sort of informal mentoring can be a valuable way for participants to share and learn from their experiences of mentoring, and to broaden their peer networks. Think about how you can design your program to enable interactions and collaboration between mentoring program participants.
While Module 9 – Selecting and matching mentees and mentors goes into detail about key things to consider when matching mentees and mentors, it is useful to think early on about how you will structure the matching process.
There are two different options for this process. The first is having a single intake of participants in the program; this intake could be thought of as a mentoring “cohort”. In this approach, all mentees and mentors would be matched, and would then start the mentoring program, at the same time.
These mentoring pairs or mentoring groups might work closely together, for example through a local face-to-face mentoring program. Limiting each group to 10–20 mentees will allow for more in-depth training and bonding. Alternatively, this approach might simply involve many pairs being matched at the same time, but then having limited to no interaction with other pairs. An example of this is a mentoring program at a large international conference, in which young delegates are partnered with experienced delegates, and each mentoring pair is separate from the others.
The alternative to a single intake is ongoing matching. This means that you will match mentees and mentors on a rolling basis, as soon as you find a suitable match.
Each of these alternatives has pros and cons, which we outline in Table 2 below.
Table 2: Types of mentoring relationships and matching processes
Group (mentees and mentor)
Group (peer-to-peer only)
Some mentees may require input from more experienced or connected mentors
Not all potential mentees or mentors may be available for the defined intake
Works for all mentoring approaches
Important for face-to-face programs and any programs that require more in-depth training and orientation
Mentees and mentors can sign up whenever they like
Work through the questions presented in Table 2.
Consider and weigh up the pros and cons of each approach as they relate to your situation.
Complete the Decision Filter to identify which approach may be best for you.
[Tool] “Which mentoring program is best for your situation?” quiz
[Tool] Decision Filter to identify the best mentoring approach for your situation
[Report] YPARD review of pilot mentoring programs
Jim, YPARD Philippines Country Representative, talks about his experience of choosing to run a face-to-face, cohort-based mentoring program for YPARD members in the Philippines, including the factors that influenced his decision to choose this approach and how this related to YPARD Philippines’ objectives.
Sarah, former Youth in Landscapes Initiative Mentoring Coordinator, shares the story of choosing to coordinate a one-on-one mentoring program for a cohort of youth leaders taking part in the youth program at the 2014 Global Landscapes Forum. Mentors were selected from senior/experienced delegates at the conference who had expressed interest in participating in youth-related activities.