A simple guide to cultural mentoring in the workplace, with examples

Louisa Ajami

We’ve previously outlined four key cultural skills that anyone can use to gain cultural competence and work in any type of diverse environment. 

Here we’ll talk about cultural mentoring in the workplace, a key skill essential to helping people new to a specific culture learn about what is expected, reinforced, and rewarded in that particular environment.

Why workplace mentoring matters

Mentors help to ease their mentee’s transition to a new culture and increase their effectiveness, which benefits the employee, their team, and the company as a whole.

Types of mentoring

Mentoring can take place between:

  •  an individual mentor and mentee;
  •  or between a mentor and a group of people. 

Examples of mentoring

1. Individual mentoring

Two male colleagues sitting in a park as an example of workplace mentoring

Examples of individual mentoring include informal, goal-oriented discussions between a junior person seeking advice from their senior, as well as discussions in which the mentor is not necessarily a senior to or even colleague of the mentee, but has more experience working in a given space. 

Examples of this include:

  • assigned “buddies” who help new hires get oriented over the first few weeks at the job, and 
  • higher-level executives selecting younger employees to learn the ways of the organization.

2. Group mentoring

Workplace cultural group highlights examples of mentoring with beautiful diverse team

On the other hand, group mentoring includes employee resource groups, or affinity teams, in which people with common interests or backgrounds form a group based on membership identity. 

Examples of group mentoring are:

  • A group of employees of South Asian origin who work together in their company’s US headquarters meet over lunch to talk about challenges they face adapting to American cultural work styles.
  • A group of several female tech professionals give each other advice on advancing their careers and making an impact in their company’s male-dominated IT department.

In each of the above examples of mentoring, the person in the group who has more experience in the given space gives advice to and counsels those who are new to the situation. Organizations often leverage this type of group mentoring to help motivate employees and to gain valuable insights into their target demographic.

Cultural mentoring in the workplace leads to higher morale

Cultural mentoring relationships – both individual and group-level – can help keep your employees informed about the best ways to handle their specific cultural situation and provide a sense of support, which leads to higher morale. 

Workplace mentoring and workplace mentors are an integral part of employee development. Companies that support workplace mentoring – formal and informal, and individual and group – will reap the rewards of a more engaged and savvier employee base. 

Ready to open up your world with cultural understanding? Discover more articles on our culture blog.

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