Group mentoring offers some very rich opportunities for promoting group and individual learning.
While group mentoring multiplies the learning, it can only do so when members of the group intentionally and effectively work at strengthening relationships between and among themselves.
What are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to group mentoring?
1. Jumpstarting the process without first building trust. Too often group mentoring participants — particularly peer mentors — are so eager to get started that they jump right into mentoring without taking enough time to establish and build trust among themselves. In group mentoring, all mentoring partners must feel safe before they can feel comfortable enough to be open with one another and to experience significant learning.
2. Failure to acknowledge difference. It is easy to assume that by virtue of being in a group, group members share common interests. While it is quite true that they may share some things in common, they are unique individuals and each brings who they are into the relationship. When members fail to understand their own and each other’s’ uniqueness, they miss out on the opportunity to learn from different perspectives.
3. Not fully committed to the process. When individuals are required to participate in group mentoring, they may fail to engage fully in the process. They may choose instead to sit back passively or withhold their opinions. Inevitably, it is the group that misses out. Lack of engagement impacts the learning of the entire group.
4. Failure to engage in conversation. Mentoring groups may sometimes say that they engage in “conversation.” What they are actually doing, though, is participating in a series of transactions or interactions. It is only when mentoring partners fully engage in conversation that deeper insights emerge. Conversation that demands collaborative engagement accelerates learning and takes group mentoring to a whole new level.