Group Mentoring in Business
Effective relationships and learning are the mainstays of organizational success. Organizations that find meaningful ways for their employees to connect are more likely to realize greater productivity, enhanced career growth and overall improvement in employee performance. Group mentoring connects employees and advances learning within your organization.
Group Mentoring Is Efficient
Group mentoring affords an organization the opportunity to extend its mentoring efforts and reach more people in a time-efficient manner. It solves the dilemma of mentoring many people when there are not enough qualified mentors in an organization to make one-to-one mentoring matches.
Group mentoring is a way to honor and share the knowledge and expertise of individuals and to provide other employees with exposure to their specific know-how. Group mentoring also avoids the perception of favoritism that can result when there are limited numbers of mentors and many potential mentees. Organizations have found group mentoring to be a welcome alternative to combat mentor fatigue and burnout.
Group Mentoring Promotes Diversity
Because group mentoring involves more than two individuals, it promotes diversity of thinking, practice, and understanding. The diversity of perspectives that emerges from group mentoring interaction is a powerful motivator for employee development.
Group mentoring supports individual accountability establishes a more connected workplace and provides a welcome alternative for those who learn better in group settings.
Group Mentoring Contributes to a Vibrant Culture
Group mentoring also contributes to the vibrancy of a mentoring culture, especially when coupled with one-to-one mentoring. It expands the mentoring capacity of the organization and affords the opportunity to move learning to the next level.
What Group Mentoring Is
Group mentoring involves a group of individuals who engage in a mentoring relationship to achieve specific learning goals. There are many ways to approach group mentoring. Three of the most popular are facilitated group mentoring, peer-group mentoring and team mentoring.
Facilitated group mentoring allows a number of people to participate in a learning group and to benefit simultaneously from the experience and expertise of a mentor or mentors. The richness of the experience multiplies as each group participant brings personal experiences into the conversation. The facilitator asks questions to keep the dialogue thought-provoking and meaningful, shares their own personal experiences, provides feedback and serves as a sounding board.
Example: Once a month seven physicians meet to talk about issues pertinent to their small subspecialty area of practice. For each session, they choose an outside facilitator (usually a medical academician) based on the topic they are exploring.
Peer-group mentoring brings together peers with similar learning interests or needs. The group is self-directed and self-managed. It takes responsibility for crafting its learning agenda and for managing the learning process so that each member's learning needs are met, and everyone derives maximum benefit from each other's knowledge, expertise, and experience.
Example: Each participant presents a problem or issue. The other members of the group respond to the problem or issue presented. As a result, the collective wisdom of the group is harnessed to solve problems and improve practices, and value is created for all group members.
Team mentoring offers a methodology for facilitating the learning of an intact team. Together the individuals making up the team articulate mutual learning goals and work simultaneously with one or more mentors who guide them through a deliberate and deliberative process to facilitate their learning. The mentoring process allows the team to be supported and to learn from each other’s experience and knowledge.
Example: In a law firm, two mentors with different legal specialties work with an internal group of associates with the goal of helping them better understand what they do and how they do it. There are many variations on these themes, and innovative group mentoring practices are emerging all the time.
Strategies for Success in Group Mentoring
To be successful, group mentoring requires creating organizational readiness, providing multiple opportunities and ensuring ongoing support.
Readiness for Group Mentoring
Readiness starts with the clear articulation of the goals and purposes for the group mentoring concept. An organization must develop a standard of expectation and practice for mentoring groups. It must clarify roles, and the responsibilities of the individual participants and the group must be mutually understood.
- Align your group mentoring process so that it fits your organization’s culture
- Establish ownership for mentoring groups in the organization
- Get the right infrastructure in place to support the group mentoring process
- Provide adequate budget and time
- Articulate roles and responsibilities in group mentoring
Opportunities for Group Mentoring
Create multiple group mentoring opportunities to meet a variety of learning needs in your organization. Experiment and be creative.
- Choose the model that will afford your organization the greatest success and build from there
- Train your mentoring group leaders
- Share new strategies, ideas, and best practices across mentoring groups
- Provide opportunities to integrate new learning
- Monitor the progress of the mentoring groups
Support Group Mentoring
Organizational mentoring requires multiple supports, some visible to the eye, others not. Think proactively about the structures and practices you need to put in place to support group and individual mentoring.
- Support the time taken to mentor
- Check in and check out how things are going
- Assign responsibility for mentoring and group mentoring management
- Continuously evaluate your efforts and expect to make changes along the way
- Build in safety nets to ensure success
In summary, if you plan your group mentoring strategy, set up the infrastructure to support group mentoring, and set solid roles, goals, and clear expectations, group mentoring will succeed in your organization.
Lois J. Zachary is an internationally recognized writer, billed as an expert on mentoring.