Traditional Vs Relational Mentoring
Jos Finer in mentoring best practice
26th September 2023 -  3 mins read
Photo by <a href="" target="_blank">Vardan Papikyan</a> on <a href="" target="_blank">Unsplash</a>

There are many different mentoring styles and practices out there for you to choose from. From peer-to-peer to one on one, formal to informal and short term to long, there are endless combinations to choose from! This blog will break down one particular subset of mentoring style, traditional vs relational, to empower you to make the most informed decision possible on which kind of mentoring is best suited to your organisation.  

Traditional Mentoring

Traditional mentoring does exactly what it says on the tin. It describes the dynamic that you are probably most likely to think of when you think of a mentoring partnership. A more experienced and, most likely, older individual mentors a less experienced person. In this dynamic the junior partner is termed the ‘protégé.’ The benefits of traditional mentoring are that, ‘mentors help their protégés through providing career functions (i.e., sponsorship, exposure and visibility, coaching, protection, and challenging assignments) and psychosocial support (i.e., role modelling, acceptance and confirmation, counselling and friendship)’ (Srivastava and Jomon 2013: 712). Greater experience and seniority within a particular field can provide a mentor an edge in the guidance they can provide their mentee. Think of Plato and Socrates, Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou. This version of mentoring has been passed down through the ages and for good reason. It’s a classic.

However, within their review on the impact of mentoring, ‘Mentoring & Performance: Implications for Business Organizations’ (2013), Sushmita Srivastava and M. G. Jomon argue that ‘The traditional role of an older, wiser person guiding a younger one has been undermined in an age where experiences of the past and accumulated knowledge no longer guarantee relevance in the future’ (Srivastava and Jomon 2013: 712). Read on to learn about another mentoring style that may be more up to speed with contemporary organisational practices.

Relational Mentoring

Relational mentoring theory, as proposed by B. R. Ragins in 2010, branches away from the transactional nature of traditional mentoring and instead proposes a more personal and reciprocal partnership between equals. According to Srivastava and Jomon,

‘relational perspective mentoring is defined as a developmental relationship that involves mutual growth, learning and development in personal, professional, and career domains’ (Srivastava and Jomon 2013: 712).

Unlike the rigid formality of traditional mentoring, relational mentoring is flexible and person driven. With a structure such as this generational skill and knowledge divides can be bridged in both directions. Within our rapidly developing culture, ‘Globalization, technology and social networking have created a shift where learners or the mentees drives the mentoring engagement’ (Ibid: 720). In addition, the focus on connection and mutual development creates a more supportive and empowering dynamic within a partnership that extends beyond career and skill development and into the personal. This can benefit overall happiness and wellbeing and strengthen bonds between organisational members.

Our easy to use and customisable interface allows you to easily tailor your mentoring schemes to fit your needs exactly. Book a free demo with us today to find out more about how we can help you meet your mentoring goals.

Life spillovers: the impact of fear of home foreclosure on attitudes towards work, life and careers B. R. Ragins

‘Mentoring & Performance: Implications for Business Organizations’ (2013) Indian Journal of Industrial Relations vol. 48, no. 4 April 2013 pp. 711-725