About our blog post author:  Andrea Moore is a senior consultant at FlashPoint, a multidisciplinary human resource consulting firm based in Indianapolis. As a certified professional in learning and performance and a certified empowerment coach, Andrea focuses on leadership development and addresses a broad spectrum of learning and performance issues. She is the president of the Central Indiana Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

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I suspect that you have either served as a mentor at some point in your career or have benefited from the knowledge and expertise of a mentor; mentoring has been proven again and again as an effective development opportunity, and today, it’s showing up in new ways.

While many of the aspects of the traditional mentoring model still apply today, there has also been a shift in how mentoring is used. As all aspects of business have evolved, so have the common methods for developing the workforce.

One of the ways in which mentoring has shifted is the use of group mentoring. It looks like this . . . a group of learners gather to gain knowledge about a very focused topic (i.e., a core leadership competency within their organization). Within this forum, typically two advisors/mentors share their knowledge of this topic with the learners in a set time frame. Advisors/mentors answer specific questions to help the learners gain the knowledge they need. (Notice my use of the word advisor to describe mentors—yes, that’s another way in which mentoring has shifted; the language has shifted, and mentors are now often called “advisors” and protégées are referred to as “learners.”)

In a recent conference presentation on the use of mentoring as a development tool, I facilitated a simulated group mentoring session, providing small groups with focused topic areas (relevant to the conference theme). Within their small groups, participants self-identified two advisors to share knowledge about the topics and the learners asked questions I had provided. In less than 10 minutes, learners gained valuable information about the topics discussed, affirming the value of group mentoring around a focused topic.

Used in this way, group mentoring can serve as an effective alternative to classroom training. Identify advisors/mentors for core organizational competencies and use these individuals in the development of others. This will also serve as a development opportunity for the individuals who are doing the mentoring/advising.

If you try group mentoring in your organization, come back and comment here on how it went.