Traditional Mentors


A mentor has been defined as an individual with advanced experience and knowledge who is committed to providing upward mobility and support to a protégé (Hunt & Michael, 1983; Kram, 1985).  There are two broad functions a traditional mentor provides: career development and psychosocial.

Career Development

The first function involves career development roles that help the protégé learn and advance in the organization. The roles associated with career development are sponsoring the protégé for promotions, coaching the protege, protecting the protégé from adverse forces, providing the protégé with challenging assignments and increasing the protégé’s exposure and visibility (Kram, 1985).


The second function of mentoring involves psychosocial roles that enhance the protégé’s sense of competence, self-efficacy, and professional and personal development. The roles associated with psychosocial development are helping the protégé develop acceptance and confirmation, providing counseling to the protégé, giving respect and friendship to the protégé, and acting as a role model (Kram, 1985).

Mentors do not have to provide all of the mentoring functions. They can perform some or all of these roles. Which roles mentors perform can vary from relationship to relationship as well as over time within the same relationship.

There are two types of traditional mentoring relationships:

  1. Informal traditional mentoring relationships develop naturally. Often, a mentor perceives a protégés as a less experienced version of herself/himself and the protégé views the mentor as a model of who the protégés wants to become.
  2. Formal traditional mentoring relationships are formed either by an assignment from the organization or by a protégé approaching a mentor and requesting a formal mentoring relationship. If you are interested in developing such a relationship, click here for a resource to begin the process.