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5 types of mentoring programs for the workplace

When people think of mentoring programs, most think of the traditional one-on-one relationship between a seasoned leader and an employee. While this is a popular type of program, mentoring comes in various forms and can be customized to fit the needs of your organization. 

In this post, we’ll share five different types of mentoring programs you can introduce to your workplace and explain how they can support your company goals. 

5 types of workplace mentoring programs

1. Developmental (career) mentoring program 

This is the most common type of mentoring program. It typically involves a relationship between a senior executive and a more junior employee, with the goal of supporting the mentee with their professional development to further their career.

This is a great option for companies that want to dip their toes into the mentoring world for the first time or want to offer more growth opportunities to their workforce.


Can increase job satisfaction. Having the support of a mentor can help employees feel more fulfilled in their roles. It demonstrates that their organization cares about their success and provides them with the guidance they need to achieve their career goals. That’s likely why more than nine in 10 workers who have a mentor are satisfied with their jobs.

Results in better career outcomes for employees. Mentorship isn’t just about having someone to turn to for advice. It can also lead to tangible outcomes for your employees. In fact, a study found that people with mentors are promoted five times more often than those without mentors.

Applicable to all levels of seniority. Mentoring, contrary to popular belief, can help employees of all levels – even CEOs. A study found that even the most senior leaders became proficient in their roles faster, with the help of a mentor. 

2. Diversity-focused mentoring program

Mentoring programs are especially important to women and people in underrepresented groups. According to a study by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, 30% of women said their mentoring relationship was extremely important, compared to 23% of men. Similarly, 32% of minorities found it extremely important, compared with 27% of the overall sample. 

A diversity-focused mentoring program addresses these needs by targeting underrepresented groups and creating equitable opportunities for career development.


Builds more equity. It’s well known that women and minorities don’t receive equal access to career development opportunities. Targeted mentoring programs, which have been found to boost the representation of Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American employees at the managerial level by anywhere from 9% to 24%, can overcome these obstacles and build more equity. 

Leads to improved business outcomes. Research from McKinsey & Company revealed that ethnically diverse and gender diverse organizations are respectively 35% and 15% more likely to achieve financial returns above average. We saw with our client, Best Buy, that its internal mentoring program helped 87% of underrepresented minorities and women improve the quality of their work and prepared them to take on more responsibility.

3. New manager mentoring program 

While mentoring programs can be beneficial to anyone in an organization, they’re especially relevant for new managers. A mentoring relationship can help first-time managers develop the skills they need to thrive in their roles and better serve their teams and direct reports.


Supports management skills. Being promoted to a managerial role for the first time requires a huge amount of upskilling. The steep learning curve can be overwhelming for employees, but the support of a mentor can make the transition a bit easier. We found that with our mentees that 92% of them felt they had increased skills for the job, with the help of their mentor.

Builds confidence. New managers may experience self-doubt in their new roles. Unaddressed, this can lead to poor performance, low self-awareness, and an inability to provide helpful guidance to direct reports. Mentors can help managers overcome this lack of confidence by providing encouragement, sharing objective feedback, and guiding them through challenges. 92% of Torch mentees report improved confidence in handling challenges

4. High potential employee mentoring program

While most organizations recognize the value of their high potential employees (HiPos), many don’t provide them with the support and growth opportunities they need to be successful. A HiPo-specific mentoring program, which is one of the most unmet needs of this group, can help your top performers find fulfillment in their roles. 


Delivers more value to organizations. Research shows that HiPo employees work 21% harder than their peers – not to mention they also bring 91% more value to the organization than non-HiPos. This means that the longer you retain your HiPos, with resources like mentoring, the more value they’ll deliver to your company. 

Creates opportunities for growth. Our client, PennyMac, uses a mentoring program to build and nurture its leadership bench. The program, which offers high-quality mentor-mentee matches and customized learning paths, helps identify and give opportunities to HiPo employees to develop into future leaders. 

5. Reverse mentoring program

As the name implies, reverse mentoring is when a more seasoned executive is paired with a younger employee. The purpose of this relationship is for the mentor and mentee to share information with a bottom-up approach to create more transparency, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.


Increases retention rates. Reverse mentoring programs can be a powerful retention tool for employees. Financial company Pershing introduced a reverse mentoring program to incorporate new and fresh perspectives at the more senior levels of the organization and saw a 96% retention rate for the 77 millennials who were involved.

Help overcome biases. Many companies experience tension between the multiple generations that co-exist in their workforce. This tension usually stems from misconceptions each demographic has about the other. Reverse mentoring is a great way to break through these existing barriers and have employees across all age groups and seniority levels work with each other, rather than against. 

Recommendations to strengthen your mentoring programs

Whichever one of these mentoring programs you decide on, you want to approach the process in a thoughtful way. Below are a few recommendations to help you get started on your mentoring program

1. Be thoughtful about the matching process

One of the most important aspects of a mentoring program is to create a holistic and efficient matching process. In general, there are three options available to most organizations: 

  1. Let employees self-select their mentors
  2. Have the program admin make those decisions
  3. Use a matching survey that takes an algorithmic approach

For cohorts with over 30 employees, we highly encourage the third option. Not only does a matching survey relieve the burden of manually making matches, but it can remove significant biases from the process. Also, it’s important to remember that matching is about more than just skills, interests, and job descriptions – it’s also important to keep the mentee’s goals in mind.  

2. Set and measure goals

It’s critical to have employees identify and measure their goals over time. The best way to accomplish this is through a mix of self-evaluation, as well as feedback from their mentor. The reason why it’s so important to track progress is that it can help motivate employees, demonstrate the ROI of the mentoring program for the HR team, and provide a big picture of the capabilities of your employees.

3. Choose the right mentoring platform 

Selecting the right mentoring software can make a huge difference to the experience of your mentors and mentees. A comprehensive mentoring platform can make your programs more easily scalable, provide you with a visual dashboard to easily keep track of progress, and even give your organization access to external mentors – in case you don’t have enough internal mentors to tap into. 

Depending on the goals of your organization, mentoring programs can be designed to support your needs. Regardless of what type of program you choose to move forward with, make sure to apply our recommendations to ensure the best results. To learn more about Torch’s mentoring platform, request a demo