Internal vs External Mentoring – what is better for your team?

Written by
Julia Gumeniuk
Published on
August 13, 2023
Mentoring can become a great development tool for yourself, your team members, and the whole company. Moreover, mentoring can be internal or external, providing different outcomes for participants. What’s the difference between these two? Let's dig deeper to understand the pros and cons of both internal and external mentoring programs.

Internal Mentoring – benefits and downsides

To kick off the Internal Mentoring program, the company needs to be aware of some facts in advance – the company will need resources to build its own mentoring program, connect mentees with correct mentors, and organise feedback sessions to check the success of the program. Depending on the company's structure, HR or Learning & Development teams can act as program owners.

Does the company's size matter? Very much. The bigger the company – the more exciting matches there can be between mentees and mentors. Additionally, a company that is multicultural and has employees from different backgrounds can benefit more from internal mentoring, as there will be a wider choice of experts with different approaches.

The downside comes when the company can't allocate additional resources for planning the proper Internal Mentoring program. It's also important to remember that internal mentors are being selected from the internal teams, meaning in some cases, there can be a limited overview of the area, sometimes biased by the company itself and its industry.

However, when the company activates the Internal Mentoring program, it becomes a great development tool for both mentees and mentors. The program is free of charge for the employees, and this way, anyone can focus on their professional skills and develop themselves within the company. It's one of the best career development tools, supporting the employees' engagement and commitment.

  • Benefits: Free for the employees; Supporting cross-department collaboration; Increasing employees' engagement and commitment; Boosting company's morale; Supporting employees' professional development.
  • Downsides: Needs company's resources to build the program and maintain it; Can provide limited knowledge share in case of the smaller company; Can be biased as mentoring is happening within the same company; Provides little or no networking options.

External Mentoring – benefits and downsides

External Mentoring can be a good start for a company interested in a mentoring program, mainly if it can't invest time and resources internally. The only help needed from the company will be a person who'll coordinate the initiative and keep track of expenses as it's a paid service.

The External Mentoring program can be implemented in companies of any size and with employees of any cultural backgrounds. This way, the company is not tight to some limitations and can activate the mentoring program when it's relevant. It's possible to benefit from the flexibility and adjust the program's duration based on the company's budget allowance.

While internal mentoring develops employees in both mentees' and mentors' roles, external mentoring is focused on developing the company's less-skilled employees who'll get a mentee's role. However, some programs include the option for more skilled employees to enroll in the program as mentors and help employees from other companies.

Overall, external mentoring can bring a fresh perspective compared to an internal one, where the company's rules and its limits are already known. Being from another company and even industry, external mentors can provide an out-of-the-box solution and share new approaches to the previously considered processes.

  • Benefits: Company doesn't need to allocate resources for the mentoring program setup; Flexible solution relevant for the company; Duration and amount of mentors can be adjusted; External mentors from other companies and areas bring a fresh perspective; A broader network of experts outside of the company.
  • Downsides: The program is paid compared to the free internal mentoring; Doesn't support cross-department collaboration.

And the winner is…

As seen in the analysis above, both internal and external mentoring programs have their benefits and downsides. The choice solely depends on the company that wants to introduce mentoring and what resources and budget the company is willing to allocate. Internal mentoring is excellent in supporting collaboration across teams, while external mentoring brings in fresh ideas. The choice is yours.

Does external mentoring sound like a better option for your company? At Femme Palette we help companies thrive through 1:1 personalized development to improve diversity and digital skills. Check out our Mentoring Program for companies.

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