Often I have been asked what is the importance of mentoring and which type of mentoring is better, group vs solo (a.k.a. "one-on-one").
Let's start by defining mentoring:
Mentoring is a process whereby an experienced individual (the mentor), helps another individual (the mentee) with the development of skills and knowledge.
In addition to this, the various functions that a mentor performs comprise of teaching, coaching, facilitating, challenging and supporting the individual under his mentorship.
There are different mentoring models available for organization mentoring needs and two of these will be discussed thoroughly in the following paragraphs.
One-to-One Mentoring: In this model of mentoring, as the name suggests, the relationship spans between one mentor and one mentee. This pair is usually made by a program manager who brings together a mentor and mentee based on factors such as experience, skill set, intended goals as well as personality.
Group Mentoring: This mentoring model has to do with mentorship conducted by a group or association of professional mentors who have been delegated authority to ensure the development of its mentees (also a group). The distinct feature of group mentoring is that the group of mentors is assisted in this process by a Mentoring Group Leader.
Distinction between One-to-One and Group Mentoring
- One-to-one mentoring is different from group mentoring as it is designed to ensure individual development, unlike multiple development foci of group mentoring.
- Since one-to-one enables close interaction between the mentor and mentee, it tends to be more personal. On the contrary, group mentoring tends to lack this personal contact element.
- One-to-one encourages a confined set of expertise and knowledge that may be shared by a mentor with mentee. In group mentoring, there is greater exposure to various expertise and knowledge as each mentor in the group brings forth a unique set of skills and expertise, accessible to each mentee.
- One-to-one mentoring ensures a greater level of confidentiality as the relationship is close-knit and personal. On the contrary, group mentoring could lack the element of confidentiality, thereby limiting the members’ scope of risk. However, when done in settings such as mine, we maintain absolute confidentiality in order to provide a safe environment for open communication.
- One-to-one mentoring model is alien to the concept of competition as there is a single mentee undergoing professional development. In case of group mentoring, the possibility of increased competition level amongst the group may cause unnecessary disruption in the whole mentoring process, thereby causing delays and wastage of time. Co-existence is yet another concept alien to one-to-one mentoring. The key to avoiding the competition is having the mentor select members who he or she feels will ADD to the group and not take AWAY from it.
- Furthermore, in case of one-to-one mentoring, scheduling is hassle-free and flexible, depending on when each one (mentor and mentee) is available for a training session. As for group mentoring, scheduling can be a tumultuous process; as ensuring attendance of each member is time-consuming and members could have conflicting work schedules. Hence, scheduling has to be carried out adroitly, ensuring minimal wastage of time and resources. But with a motivated group, I have found that people are flexible in their schedules, willing to accommodate the group for the greater good.
- One-to-one mentoring enables a focused approach for the mentor as there is one mentee that seeks guidance and support. Group mentoring, on the other hand, requires understanding the needs of each group member and ensuring alignment of these variable needs to the overall goal.
- One-to-one mentoring is confined to a single mentee, thereby lacks networking which is a prominent feature of group mentoring.
- Lastly, one-to-one mentoring works with individual projects that may be assigned to the mentee. Group mentoring enables the group’s combined input to any and all projects assigned. Problem-solving is thus agile in case of group mentoring.
With my clients, I do both, group and the on on one.
One on one creates a more personalized and intimate level of communication however with the selection process that I go through before my group sessions, I make sure I have the right group of people, via careful screening, that will make the experience stronger and much more productive.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages but after reading this article, you will soon come to realize that the key is starting with a mentor in the first place!
Until next time!
Terence Young, MD
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