A good mentoring programme can significantly improve staff engagement, retention and enthusiasm. But a bad mentoring programme can cause significant harm to an organisation.

While it is important to acknowledge that any mentoring program can have positive and negative experiences, internal mentoring programs more frequently contain negative experiences and have negative impacts on staff. On the other hand, external mentoring programs are much more likely to be positive and successful experiences.

This blog uses 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 a company specialising in mentoring. Mentees can be matched to a mentor from anywhere on the globe who can coach and educate the mentees.

Now, lets compare the benefits of these two forms of mentoring:

 

Matching

 

Arguably the most important part of any mentoring program is matching the mentor with the mentee.  

Internal mentoring programs 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 significant this problem becomes. 

External mentoring programmes specialise in this process, matching mentees with mentors who they can form great relationships with and can learn a lot from. If a miss-match does occur 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 can ensure that every mentee can be matched with a suitable mentee.  

Along with finding the right mentor, external programs can ensure that the mentors are committed to a full mentoring cycle to ensure the mentee has time to learn and progress.  

  

 

Structure  

 

The full benefits of mentoring are often overlooked, internal programs regularly fail to have clear objectives, metrics for measurement and support available. This directly contrasts an external mentoring programme which can be tailored by specialists to upskill staff the way the organisation requires, progress is measured and there is support services for mentors and mentees.  

While many internal mentoring schemes simply use a traditional 1-to-1 mentoring approach. External mentoring programmes have can have much more modern approaches to mentoring, utilising 1-to-1 mentoring, mentoring groups or a wider mentoring community.  

  

 

Connections and Opportunities  

 

One of the many benefits of a mentoring program 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 unpick 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 externa mentors have increased confidence within their career and career aspirations.  

  

 

Authenticity  

 

Internal mentor programs 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 about their role and the things that they struggle with through fear for their own career.  

Without the ability to have an honest and authentic conversations within a mentor mentee relationship – the benefits of mentoring cannot be realised.  

External mentor programs provide a confidential environment for individuals to have authentic discussions about their work life, and support each other in navigating their career.  

Do you need an external mentoring program?

 

We already know the benefits of having a mentor, and we have seen the further benefits provided from using an external mentoring program.

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 you use an external mentoring programme to provide your staff with the most valuable experience possible.