Group Mentoring: Best Practices

Discover how group mentorship differs from traditional mentorship

Introducing Group Mentorship

While traditional mentorship typically involves a one-on-one relationship between a mentor and a mentee, group mentorship takes a different approach. Group mentorship brings together a small group of individuals who share common goals, interests, or experiences. Instead of relying solely on one mentor, group mentorship leverages the collective wisdom and diverse perspectives of the entire group. 

Group mentorship offers a supportive and collaborative environment where participants can learn from one another, share challenges and successes, and gain multiple perspectives. It creates a sense of community and belonging, as participants can connect with others who are on a similar journey. Group mentorship also allows for more networking opportunities, as participants can expand their professional networks and build relationships with like-minded individuals.

Benefits of Group Mentoring

Group mentoring has several benefits that make it an effective approach for personal and professional development. The benefits include but are not limited to:

  • Shared experiences - Groups allow for more shared learning from others' experiences than 1:1 mentoring (Andrews & Clark, 2011).
  • Peer support - A group provides mentees with a network of peers that they can rely on for support, advice, contacts, etc (Daloz et al., 2016, Darwin & Palmer, 2009).
  • Efficiency - Mentors can share their time and wisdom with multiple mentees in a group format, allowing them to mentor more people efficiently (Buell et al., 2004).
  • Collaboration - Group mentoring encourages mentees to collaborate, work as a team, and learn from each other (Daloz et al., 2016).
  • Accountability - Being part of a group can increase commitment and drive to achieve goals set during the program (Buell et al., 2004, Young et al., 2020)
  • Reduced intimidation - The group format creates a less intimidating entrance into being mentored for some individuals (Daloz et al., 2016).
  • Networking - Bringing mentees together allows them to expand their networks (Daloz et al., 2016).

Strategies for Group Mentoring

The following strategies are essential for group mentoring success.

  1. Define the purpose and goals: Clearly define the objectives and desired outcomes of the group mentoring program.
  2. Choose the right format and tools: Select the most suitable format and tools for the sessions, such as face-to-face or online meetings, synchronous or asynchronous communication, and appropriate platforms for interaction.
  3. Establish ground rules: Set clear ground rules and expectations to promote a productive environment for all participants.
  4. Safe and inclusive space. Foster an environment where participants feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, ideas, and challenges. Encourage active participation and respectful communication.
  5. Assign facilitators (usually the mentor): Designate facilitators for both in-person and online sessions to ensure a smooth and effective process.
  6. Understand the dynamic of the group: Recognise the "forming, storming, norming" rule and the benefits of group mentoring in fostering a collaborative learning environment.
  7. Incorporate structured activities. This can enhance the group mentoring experience. These activities can include sharing success stories, discussing case studies, or engaging in collaborative problem-solving exercises. 
  8. Celebrate milestones and achievements. Recognise and acknowledge the progress and accomplishments of the group and individual participants. Celebrating milestones fosters motivation, engagement, and a sense of accomplishment.

How Technology Can Assist

Mentoring platforms such as Brancher can assist to support effective group mentoring relationships. Mentoring platforms can assist with the matching process by employing advanced algorithms to pair mentees with mentors effectively, promoting diverse and compatible relationships. Integrated scheduling platforms streamline meeting coordination, and provide access to resources and training materials. Automated messaging systems send personalised nudges to keep participants on track, leveraging behavioural science principles for effective communication. Customisable platforms offer the right balance of structure and support, allowing administrators to track success through comprehensive analytics dashboards and intervene where necessary to ensure program effectiveness and participant satisfaction.

How to Get Involved

If you're interested in getting involved in group mentorship, there are several avenues you can explore. Start by researching organisations or communities that offer group mentorship programs. These can be industry-specific groups, professional associations, or mentorship platforms.

Reach out to your network and inquire about any existing group mentorship opportunities. You may find that someone you know is already part of a group mentorship program or can connect you with relevant resources.

Consider starting your own group mentorship program. Identify individuals who share common goals or interests and invite them to join your group. Establish clear objectives, guidelines, and expectations for the group.

Remember, group mentorship is a two-way street. While you can benefit from the guidance and support of others, also be prepared to contribute your knowledge, insights, and experiences to the group. Active participation and engagement are key to a successful group mentorship experience.

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Andrews, J., & Clark, R. (2011). Peer mentoring works! How peer mentoring enhances success in higher education. Aston University.

Buell, C., Hallam, R., Gamel-McCormick, M., & Scheer, S. (1999). A survey of academic and student affairs partnerships. NASPA journal, 36(3), 156-171.

Daloz, L. A., Daloz Parks, S., Keen, C. H., & Daloz Keen, C. (2016). Common Fire: Leading Lives of Commitment in a Complex World. Beacon Press.

Darwin, A., & Palmer, E. (2009). Mentoring circles in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 28(2), 125-136.

Young, A. M., Wendel, P. J., Esson, J. M., & Plank-Bazinet, J. L. (2020). The impact of five mentoring “best practices” on women STEM student achievement and persistence. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 28(5), 563-585.

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