There are many types of mentoring relationships, and it is essential to understand the differences and nuances prior to cultivating and entering into a mentoring agreement. What characteristics do you seek—formal or informal, mandatory or optional, short term or long term?
One of the most important distinctions is whether the mentoring relationship is considered formal or informal. Most mentoring relationships sit somewhere on a continuum between these two extremes. Formal mentoring relationships are often mandatory—leadership assigns mentors to new hires or promising candidates for promotion.
The meetings are scheduled, tracked, documented, and evaluated based on clearly articulated goals and milestones. Informal mentoring relationships are more spontaneous and based on loosely defined results. In fact, many mentoring relationships, while fulfilling the PD needs of the participants, are not acknowledged as such.
Often the mentee enters an informal mentoring relationship because of an intrinsically motivated need to do better. Whereas formal mentoring relationships tend to be more hierarchical, with seniority, status, and even age defining the mentor/protégé relationship, informal mentoring is more likely based on trust or admiration.
Another important thing to remember is that being a Mentor to someone is a blessing and a great opportunity to pour into someone a wealth of knowledge. Event though you are the Mentor, it is also just as important that you learn a variety of things from the people who are your mentees!