“None of us is as smart as all of us”

(Kenneth H. Blanchard)

 Eszter Ernst-Kurdi, Training Domain Team Leader, SIL Francophone Africa

As a mentor, do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of competencies that your mentees need help with? 

As a coordinator, do you struggle to find enough mentors?

Group mentoring can be an effective strategy to invest in several mentees at the same time. It helps to deal with a shortage of mentors, saves time and creates a dynamic learning environment.

If in your workplace you have a set of competencies that many mentees need to work on, and you have access to some resources they can all draw on, a well-structured, group mentoring setting can help you and your mentees advance more quickly and efficiently. 

Here is a great example from Cameroon:

In May, Dr. Virginia Beavon-Ham (Linguistics Consultant, SIL Cameroon) started a series of group mentoring sessions. The topic of the first session was Consulting Process Skills, which is a required competency category for all consultants in her organisation.

Her strategy involves gathering mentors and mentees, once a month, in an hybrid group (in-person and online).  Each meeting targets one of the interdisciplinary consultant core competencies required across all domains. Each time a different person takes the lead to facilitate the conversation around the topic of the meeting. There is prework to be done using some recommended online resources. The 90-minute group discussion is based on this prework : participants reflect on the prework, contextualise it, ask questions, share experiences and consolidate their learning together with the mentor. After the meeting, there is homework to be done by the mentees to show that they can apply their takeaways in a real-life consulting situation and reflect on it skillfully.

This recent example from Cameroon is encouraging and shows that well-structured group mentoring sessions can save you time and money. They can fit in with the competency-based consultant certification framework (CBC) and draw on resources on this  Mentoring Matters website and also the Consultant Competencies website. If you use existing, online resources as prework, you do not need to invest a lot of time in preparing the content. The hybrid option opens up the possibility to bring people together across continents which makes for a richer experience both in terms of learning and community.

Reflection questions:

  • Have you experimented with group mentoring sessions in the workplace? What has been your experience?
  • Would you give this group mentoring approach a try in your context?
  • What advantages and disadvantages do you see to group mentoring in your workplace?

 Share your ideas and insights below by clicking on “Leave a comment”.

Banner photo from Pxfuel

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