One of the mentoring models that rarely gets discussed is group mentoring. It's probably the least used model but it does have its benefits.
Some of the benefits of group mentoring are:
- In group mentoring, support comes not only from the Mentoring Group Leader (MGL) but also from peers within the group
- Provides for greater exposure to multiple levels of expertise and knowledge as each participant brings their own competencies to the group that can be shared
- Diversity within the group brings a variety of perspective to issues. It also brings greater understanding and awareness of diversity in general as it impacts one's success (or lack thereof) in the workplace
- Allows for more mentorees to benefit from participating in mentoring, especially when there are fewer mentors available
However, there are also some disadvantages to group mentoring:
- Each member has different needs that must be balanced against the overall group needs
- Does not offer the personal relationship that is the hallmark of a one-to-one mentoring relationship
- Scheduling multiple individuals to attend a meeting on a regular basis can be a challenge
- The elements of confidentiality and safety may not be achieved to the level possible in a one-to-one relationship
- Competition within the group can disrupt the success of the group
- Mentors need to understand and be comfortable with group dynamics and process
I have found that combining group mentoring with a traditional one-to-one program minimizes the disadvantages of group mentoring. For example, you might have a traditional program but create a group mentoring process whereby very senior people come to the group and share their strategic vision, etc. You might have one senior person lead the group for one or several sessions or you might have a senior person lead the group for the entire 6-12 month period of time. This combination avoids the politics involved when very senior people mentor and gives all mentorees equal access to those same people.