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Advice for Businesses
What is Group Mentoring? A Complete Guide
The benefits of a traditional mentoring program are already well known. But did you know that there are many different types of mentoring to choose from? From traditional one-on-one mentoring to reverse mentoring, it is an adaptable, flexible and effective way to boost employee engagement, foster a culture of knowledge sharing and support diversity and inclusion initiatives.
But what happens when you’re limited by a lack of good mentors in your organisation or looking to get a large number of employees involved in mentoring at speed? This is where group mentoring comes in.
In this article, we break down what group mentoring is and how it can benefit your organisation.
What is group mentoring?
Let’s start with the basics. Group mentoring is a type of mentoring in which one mentor works with several mentees at once in a group. The mentor will have an area of expertise to share and the mentees will have similar personal development goals or wish to learn specific new skills or knowledge.
The format means that the group will support each other to learn and grow, as well as bring in a range of different perspectives and experiences. In turn, the mentor will also learn from the group discussion. It works well for people that learn best collaboratively and has a wide range of benefits, but more on that later.
The important thing to remember with group mentoring is that it can be combined with other types of mentoring to create an experience that meets the needs of your organisation best.
Is it the same as team mentoring?
Not quite, but they are similar. Team mentoring is where a group of mentors and a group of mentees come together in a mentoring relationship. It involves learning together as a team, using a range of different mentors’ expertise.
While it is similar to group mentoring in that you learn together, the relationship between the mentor and mentees is slightly different. Team mentorship is typically characterised by multiple mentors working with a group of mentees, whereas group mentoring is with just one mentor.
People may also refer to team mentoring when an individual assembles a team of mentors at once that can support them across a range of personal and professional development goals.
When is group mentoring used?
Group mentoring has a wide range of uses. As it allows multiple mentees to benefit at once with the input of fewer mentors, it is particularly useful for organisations that have a lack of good mentors available.
There are many different use cases for mentoring; below we list the top reasons to implement a group mentoring program:
- Onboarding: When you have several new hires to onboard, group mentoring can be a great way of inducting new employees into your company culture, getting them up to speed on key learnings, and supporting their networking early on. It can also break down inter-departmental silos, as people across departments build relationships from the get-go.
- Knowledge retention: When employees retire or leave the business, their knowledge and experience go with them. Group mentoring is an effective way of sharing key expertise across the business at speed. With a group of mentees learning, you will also foster a learning culture in your workplace that further prevents knowledge attrition.
- Parental leave support: New and existing parents in your business can benefit from the support networks created by group mentoring. By starting a group specifically for new parents, or for employees returning to work for any number of reasons, you can smooth the transition back to work and provide essential holistic support.
- Sharing expertise: Group mentoring can form an integral part of your company’s learning and development programme. By matching mentors with specific expertise with groups that are looking to gain these skills, you can up skill a number of employees at once without the expense of hiring external trainers. Best of all your mentor will also be developing essential leadership and teaching skills.
Remember, group mentoring can complement your existing mentoring program and offers a flexible way to meet the needs of your employees. It can also be used in combination with other types of mentoring. For example, running a flash mentoring session in a group can maximise knowledge sharing at speed in your business.
What are the key benefits of group mentoring?
Group mentoring comes with all the benefits of traditional mentoring, such as improving skill sharing, improving employee experience, reducing stress and much more.
It also has some unique benefits that make it additionally appealing, some of which we’ve touched on already in this article.
- Maximise your existing mentors: make the most of good, engaged mentors and give them the opportunity to share their knowledge with a number of mentees at once.
- Engage more employees: Group mentoring can be less intimidating to some than one-on-one sessions and can engage more mentees with less effort.
- Improve teamwork and communication skills: The format encourages teamwork and fosters positive relationships across the group.
- Increase learning: Everyone in the group brings their own perspective and skillset that can inform the group discussion. In group mentoring everyone learns from each other.
- Foster community: Group mentoring can foster a sense of community and help employees to build networks across your business.
- Encourage a culture of knowledge sharing: A collaborative culture in which individuals share key knowledge areas is essential to retaining expertise in your business.
It’s worth noting that when building an inclusive mentoring program, some people may not feel comfortable working alone with new colleagues. Group mentoring is an opportunity to create a safer, more inclusive environment for everyone to benefit from mentoring.
Sounds great right? But hold on a second, there are challenges specific to this type of mentoring.
What challenges should I be prepared for?
While group mentoring has its advantages, it can be challenging too. As with any mentoring program, there are things that you need to be aware of before getting started implementing your program.
The key challenges to look out for include:
Challenge: Won’t mentors need to prepare more for group sessions?
Solution: If preparation time is a problem, mentors can prepare sessions on key topics and reuse them for different groups of mentees, saving time in the future. They will also benefit from the group bringing their own topics and can ask mentees to prepare in advance to make the most of the experience.
Challenge: Will mentees receive a less personalised experience?
Solution: Perhaps, but mentees will benefit in other ways from exploring ideas within a group setting. If an individual is looking for a more personal experience, they can seek out a one-to-one mentoring relationship too. There are no limits to the number of mentors one person can have!
Challenge: What if scheduling sessions is challenging?
Solution: If scheduling sessions is a pain point in your organisation, why not try mentoring software such as Guider? Mentoring software can improve the overall user experience as well as make life easier for managers implementing the program.
At the end of the day, everyone learns differently. Group mentoring is an excellent addition to any mentoring program and provides people with the opportunity to learn and grow together.
With proper preparation, you can overcome the challenges and reap the rewards of group mentoring in your organisation.
Read up on how to implement a mentoring program in your organisation here
Interested? Talk to Guider.
If you’re interested in setting up a group mentoring program then download our latest e-book on the different types of mentoring today It includes program templates and checklists to get you started.
To find out more about how Guider can connect people across your organisation through mentoring, book a chat with our mentoring guides.