alternatives to a one-on-one learning relationship.
mentoring is the most common form of mentoring, but it is not always possible
in every organization. There are, however, alternative mentoring models
to consider with their own unique benefits. Such models include mentoring
in peer groupings, mentoring within unit teams, and mentoring circles,
where a single leader mentors several proteges at one time.
of Multiple Mentoring
The traditional mentoring model is one mentor working with a single protege.
The strength of this one-on-one model is that it addresses the individual's
needs with no set agenda. But depending on the needs of your organization,
multiple mentoring may be a more appropriate model.
mentoring is best used to:
on the unique skills of many individuals who can strategically share
them with their peers. An additional use of this type of mentoring is
to encourage and instill the spirit of teaching, sharing, and helping
within the organization.
team building and mutual competency development within a team. Team
mentoring is great for cross-training on specific skills. This form
of multiple mentoring supports team building by developing the spirit
of giving and requesting help among team members.
- Take advantage
of the seasoned expertise of one knowledgeable individual in your organization
and make it available to multiple learners at one time.
circles. The mentoring circle model involves one mentor working with
a group of proteges. This option is effective in situations where the
number of available mentors is limited. Mentoring circles typically feature
a seasoned mentor who focuses the group and provides technical and organizational
advice and guidance. The mentor assists the circle members in utilizing
their combined energies and experiences to help one another go beyond
what any member knows or contributes as an individual. The benefit of
mentoring circles is that they generate many different perspectives rather
than a single point of view.
team mentoring. Peer or team mentoring groups are not always led by
a formal mentor. The group members themselves usually provide mentoring
to each other. They may form temporary pairs or subgroups to address a
particular organizational or departmental issue, then disband and re-form
around a different issue. Peer and team mentoring works best for cross-training,
team building, and bringing new staff up to speed quickly. Other benefits
of these types of mentoring groups include improved consistency in product
or service delivery, smoother business transitions, such as reorganizations
and new IT systems, and lower formal training costs.
Mentoring circles and peer or team mentoring should provide a learning
environment that encourages the sharing of knowledge, experience, and
insight. Following are some questions to consider before you become involved
in a mentoring circle or contemplate joining or forming a peer or team
- What outcomes
do you expect from the mentoring group experience?
- What three
things do you want the mentoring group to be known for?
- What professional
growth and development issues do you want the mentoring group to focus
- What do
you believe could get in the way of the mentoring group's effectiveness?
- When it
comes to facilitating ideas in a group, where are you the strongest?
Where are you the least effective?
- What do
you expect of other participants in your group?
- How will
you know if the mentoring group is working? What will indicate success?
No matter which multiple mentoring model is used, the concerns for establishing
the group, or circle, and setting mutually shared expectations are essentially
the same. The initial group meeting should:
topics to be covered
- Set ground
rules for working together
potential concerns such as teamwork, confidentiality within groups,
developing trust among participants, and preventing meetings from becoming
continue, participants must commit to the process by honoring designated
meeting dates and times. Participants should also address discussions
from previous sessions, share weekly learnings, and discuss outcomes of
previously identified action items.
final session, the group should evaluate the relationship in a formal
fashion--discussing whether the goals and objectives of the sessions were
met, what worked especially well, and what could be done to make the process
Ambrose is a managing partner of Perrone-Ambrose Associates, Inc., and
the author of A Mentor's Companion.
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Executive, July/August 2003