Formal and Informal Mentoring Programs

Formal Programs

Mentoring can be both formal or informal For example, a formal mentoring program may be offered to participants as part of a leadership and management development program, or as part of performance development framework. A  formalised approach to mentoring generally involves the selection and matching of mentors with mentees, by the group who supports the program.  Formal organisational mentoring programs, are often developed in response to a specific organisational issue or development need, such as being part of an overall talent management program or as a retention strategy.
Specific objectives are generally set for a formal program and program guidelines are established for the mentor/mentees, as well as resources provided to help identify career goals.  A formal mentoring program also offers support to participants, and on-going monitoring of the program ensures outcomes are achieved.

Informal Programs

Informal mentoring has a less structured approach, with the mentoring relationship often developing in a more spontaneous way, generally initiated by the mentee approaching someone who they admire or believe could assist them to develop their career.  It can take the form of one-on-one relationships, or consist of a group mentoring approach, through information forums or seminars, where a more experienced expert or senior colleague will share their knowledge and experience in a fairly informal manner. Often informal one on one mentoring does not involve developing specific goals, objectives or development plans but is often more based on the mentee asking the mentor for advice on issues as they arise.