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What are the Different Types of Mentoring? Mentors have two roles - one as experts and the other as role model

By Muthu Singaram

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Mentoring typically occurs in one of two forms; "naturally" or "planned." Natural mentoring comes from parents, teachers, friends and generally people. We know this form of mentoring is experienced by all of us in one form or another. Planned mentoring is when a structured program is devised where mentors are matched to mentees. This second form of mentoring is becoming more and more popular around the world because the people who have been mentored have given great testimonials for these programs.

Mentors are usually from a varied background. Mentoring can be used in educational, career, personal or venture development. How do these programs work? Mentoring takes a combination of these six relationships by taking one from each group as shown in Fig 1.

People are matched informally or formally via interviews, personal profiles, common interest, getting to know sessions. An open relationship is when anything is discussed; a close relationship is when only specific things are discussed; a private relationship is one where no one else is aware expect the mentor and mentee; a public relationship everyone knows about the relation; a formal relationship is one where the mentor and mentee document their relationship; an informal relationship is one where there is no documentation.

Mentors have two roles — one as experts and the other as role model. Mentors help mentee learn new skills and knowledge. They help increase the achievement rates, self-esteem and confidences. Mentors role is to help understand social behaviors, how organization work, office politics, promotes learning, explore new and conflicting ideas. Mentors help handle setbacks and problems, gain expert knowledge, acquire new knowledge and skills, help in personal development, help in understand changes and built value.

The mentoring process has three simple steps.

Step 1: - Investigate

The mentoring process begins with getting-to-know-your session to develop a relationship of trust. Relationships need to be built before any effective engagement. An environment of trust and mutuality must be established. It is important for the mentee and mentor to become acquainted with each other before planning the program. It is vital for the mentor to learn about the founder's educational background and experience, and share information about his or her own background and experience by asking open ended questions.

Step 2: - Identify

A Mentor supports the mentee in facing challenges by identifying and continuing to build upon the mentee's strengths, needs, and goals throughout the period and helping him identify his weakness and pitfalls. A mentor shares his experiences which helps the mentee in making informed decisions and prioritizing his work.

Step 3: - Plan

A mentor challenges the mentee to think out of the box which allows him creative ways of thinking and tackling a problem. Mentor's role is only to leave the mentee with food for thought and let the mentee make the final decision. It is critical for a mentor to monitor the progress of the mentee and have some checks and balances in place to see if the mentee is heading on the right track.

Mentor needs to apply the learning cycle as in Fig 2 to demonstrate how the mentee should gain form mentoring.

The learning cycle has four parts to it, this is one of the first things a mentor would apply during the mentoring process as this would give the mentee a clear understanding how to apply the mentoring. First the mentor would get the mentee to share a first-hand experience of an event which was important to them. Once the mentee shares the experience the mentor gets the mentee to share what it meant to them.

This is for the mentee to understand how mentoring would work. Once the mentee shares the meaning, the mentor would ask the mentee what was the lesson learnt from this process. The mentee would then share the lessons they have learnt. Then the mentor would ask how the lessons can be used. By doing this learning exercise the mentee would be able to then apply the experience the mentor shares with the mentee.

Mentee must be willing to accept challenges, be committed to the mentoring process, be willing to learn and taking risk and above all must have trust and confidence in the mentor

Mentee will gain from the challenges, friendship, learning from models, learning form errors, from listen, building self-confidence and get wise advice. Beside this mentee' sgets coached, get support, encouragement and become more self-aware.

Mentee's should not expect the mentor to manage, solve problems, tell them what to do, expect an easy ride, expect favors, gossip and end the relationship when problem is resolved.

Mentee's weakness can be strength overdone, persistence usually will have position results, do not treat everyone the way you want to be treated, must be different and be able to connect with others and take responsibility and willingness to take risk.

Principles of good mentoring — listen, listen and listen, understand how the mentee feels with you, start from the mentee's current position, support / tweakmentee' s ideas, fill the missing links, change must be measurable and when not working change.

Guidelines for conversation during mentoring must be friendly but professional, challenge but support, connect hard to soft skills, do not focus on your but with mentee' s issues, be a listener but do not just agree.

Mistakes mentors make agreeing too early on internal conflicts, taking things personally and sharing too early your thoughts. Things a mentor must avoid do not tell mentee what to do to improve, do not give advice outside subject expertise and do not confuse mentor'sissues with mentees issues.

In conclusion, you must know what you are hoping to achieve from the mentoring process.

Muthu Singaram

Founder, VibaZone (Canada, India and Malaysia) and CEO, HTIC-MedTech Incubator, IIT Madras

Singaram has been working with entrepreneurs, companies, individuals, government organizations, regional ministries in the areas of entrepreneurship, technology incubation, technology acceleration , innovation, technology transfer and leadership for more than 25 years.

He has conducted workshops for technology transfer managers in the regions to enable them to carry out technology transfer.

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