One form of mentoring that is not used as often as traditional mentoring is the form called "mentoring circles."
Mentoring circles can be defined as a gather of 6-8 individuals who meet regular with a mentor and sometimes two. They generally meet once a month or every other month. Topics can be generated by the group or by the organization's specific strategic objective in creating the group. The duration of a meeting can vary from 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or sometimes longer.
The advantages of group mentoring are:
- Useful when there are few mentors and larger number of mentorees
- Mentorees benefit from more than one mentor, if two guide the group
- Mentorees benefit also from one another
- Depending on the group topics, feedback from one's peers as well as a mentor can provide more objective than a mentor might have
- One can learn about areas that may not initially be of immediate interest but still be valuable
- Group mentoring by higher people in the organization can minimize the politics involved when mentoring one individual
The disadvantages are:
- Doesn't provide the one-on-one, personal attention that a mentor provides when only mentoring one person
- Requires the mentor to have an understanding of basic group dynamics to avoid common pitfalls
- Some mentorees may not learn well within a group or might be overwhelmed by other members of the group
- Scheduling can be challenging
- Issues discussed may not always be relevant to a given mentoree within a group
Despite the disadvantages above, a well structured program with training for the mentor on group dynamics can be a very effective way of serving the needs of mentorees seeking to develop through a mentoring experience.
So if you haven't thought about group mentoring as a strategy in your organization, you may want to give it some thought. At Management Mentors, we offer certification for group mentors. Check us out and contact us if you have any questions regarding group mentoring.