Formal and informal mentoring

Susan Buglass

Susan Buglass

Jun 26 — 2 mins read
Formal vs informal<br />Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">Dose Media</a> on <a href="" target="_blank">Unsplash</a>

Formal vs informal
Photo by Dose Media on Unsplash

Informal mentoring

Mentoring happens all the time, without anyone having to make a deliberate effort to make it happen. It can be an informal, natural relationship that just happens. No-one says, "I'm now going to be your mentor" or "Hey, this conversation that we are having is a mentoring conversation"

It can just be the fortunate turn of events when one person, with more experience and knowledge, takes an interest in someone who may benefit from their support, advice and guidance, and is willing to take the time and effort to help them.

Informal mentoring relationships like this can and do happen, and that's great. But not everyone will be lucky enough to just bump into someone who could be their mentor.

Formal mentoring

The most effective way to increase the opportunities for mentoring partnerships to happen, and for more people to benefit from them, is through formal mentoring schemes. There are many schemes that are run by numerous organisations for a very wide range of reasons, and the number is growing all the time.

Naturally, a formal mentoring relationship is likely to be different from an informal one. For a start, the organisation managing the scheme will have eligibility criteria, policies and processes to comply with and parameters for the mentoring partnership (such as the duration of the partnership).

It is also a much more artificial relationship, at least at first. So there will be a more deliberate process of getting to know each other, of establishing ground rules, or agreeing how the partnership will work, responsibilities and expectations and of course, exploring and agreeing mentoring goals and objectives.

Ultimately though, despite the different framework within which formal and informal mentoring partnerships are created, maintained and ended, the experience can deliver the same kind of outcomes and benefits to the mentees.

mentee mentor mentoring

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