A good mentoring programme can significantly improve staff engagement, retention and happiness. But a bad mentoring programme can badly affect an organisation. Take a look at our Level 2 and Level 3 CPD approved six-month mentoring programmes today. While it is important to acknowledge that any mentoring programme can have positive and negative experiences, internal mentoring programmes more frequently contain negative experiences and have negative impacts on staff.
On the other hand, external mentoring programmes are much more likely to be positive and successful experiences. Here we look at real conversations, experiences and academic research to compare internal and external mentoring programmes.
Internal vs External Mentoring
Internal mentoring programmes are developed and managed inside of an organisation and both the mentors and mentees are exclusively from this organisation. External mentoring programmes are developed and managed by companies specialising in mentoring who can match mentees with mentors anywhere on the globe. Mentors can then coach and educate the mentees
Now, let’s compare the benefits of these two forms of mentoring.
Arguably the most important part of any mentoring programme is matching the mentor with the mentee.
Internal mentoring programmes can only match mentees to a limited number of mentors. Having a small pool of mentors makes it extremely difficult to find a mentor who has the same interests and is a suitable match for the mentee. The smaller the organisation the more frequent this problem occurs.
External mentoring programmes focus on this process, matching mentees with mentors who they can form great relationships with and learn a lot from. If a miss-match does happen within an external mentoring programme, it is very easy to change the pairing without disrupting the harmony within a particular business.
External mentoring allows hotel managers in London to be matched with CEOs in the US. South African restaurant staff can be matched to French restaurant managers. With access to a global mentoring database, external mentoring involves that every mentee can be matched with a suitable mentee – from anywhere in the world.
Along with finding the right mentor, external programmes ensure that the mentors are committed to a full mentoring cycle to ensure the mentee has time to learn and progress.
The full benefits of mentoring are often overlooked, internal programmes regularly fail to have clear objectives, metrics for measurement and support available.
This directly contrasts with an external mentoring programme that can be tailored by industry experts to upskill staff the way the organisation requires. Progress is measured and support is made available for mentors and mentees.
While many internal mentoring schemes simply use a traditional 1-to-1 mentoring approach, external mentoring programmes use much more dynamic approaches to mentoring, such as 1-to-1 mentoring, mentoring groups or a wider mentoring community.
Connections and opportunities
One of the many benefits of a mentoring programme is creating new connections and networks. Internal mentoring allows junior members of staff to connect with those in more senior positions, which could help them navigate up the career ladder in a very specific organisation.
External mentoring can do so much more than this, it can bring new ideas, fresh perspectives, and enthusiasm into the business. Creating these new connections prevents existing challenges within organisations from being perpetuated.
If an organisation is already facing issues, internal mentoring can make it very difficult to identify and remove these issues. External mentoring, however, teaches individuals to recognise the issues which an organisation is facing and begin to solve these issues.
External mentoring facilitates personal growth but also wider structural change within organisations.
Studies show that those with a mentor outside their current organisation become more independent workers as they don’t have to rely on those that they work with to support them. We also know that people with external mentors have increased confidence in their career and career aspirations.
Internal mentor programmes consist of two people who work for the same company forming a relationship.
This means that anything that is discussed about the work which each is doing can directly impact the other. There is a legitimate fear that telling junior team members about the issues that the company faces will result in poor morale.
Similarly, mentees feel unable to tell senior members of staff about the things they dislike in their role and the things that they struggle with through fear for their own careers. Without the ability to have honest and authentic conversations within a mentor-mentee relationship – the objectives of mentoring cannot be achieved.
External mentor programmes provide a confidential environment for individuals to have authentic discussions about their work-life and support each other in navigating their careers.
Do you need an external mentoring programme?
We already know the benefits of having a mentor, and we have seen the further benefits provided by using an external mentoring programme. External mentoring programmes provide better matching opportunities, a better programme structure, more valuable connections and a space to have authentic conversations. We see time and time again that internal mentoring programmes are unable to provide these benefits and therefore are not successful programmes.
That is why we strongly recommend that companies use an external mentoring programme to provide their staff with the most valuable experience possible. At Otolo, we are on a mission to connect mentors with mentees so we provide free Level-2 and Level-3 CPD approved six-month training and mentoring programmes, which someone on our team would be happy to tell you more about.