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Forming a Mentoring Circle

Apr 11, 2008
More and more businesses are seeing the value of establishing mentoring programs for their employees but finding it hard to keep up with demand. Matching each employee with a mentor, with all the demands and responsibilities connected with the commitment, is a daunting task. One solution is to form a circle of mentors who can act as a team and share the demands of mentoring.

One of the long established tenants of mentoring is the individual relationship established between the partners and I am in no way discounting the value of such a relationship. However, in small and midsize companies the challenge is to find qualified and willing individuals to meet the demand of mentors. A compromise is to form a team of mentors who work closely together as a cohesive group, sharing insight and information, who are more accessible to mentoring recipients.

Recruiting mentors should be easier when the participants know they are part of team that will be a source of support and a resource for information and insight for them. The prospective mentors should be screened carefully and the ability to work closely with both individuals and groups must be a priority. The well rounded candidate will have had success not only in leadership roles but in a regular staff setting as well. The sensitivity and motivation that makes a good mentor must also be clearly evident in anyone entering the mentorship circle.

Communication between circle members should be almost continuous and free flowing. I recommend threaded emails and conference calls versus meetings because the time requirements for mentors are already heavy. You can set up a bulletin board online for mentors where they can post observations, notes from meetings, and requests for assistance. They must operate as a cohesive unit that shares information and obligations freely and cooperatively.

Individual employees wishing to participate in the mentoring program should be aware that they are working with a group and by the very nature of group mentoring; their access to assistance and guidance is multiplied. Because of the various backgrounds of members of the mentoring circle, the mentoring recipient has a vast array of resources to draw on. But what about the intimacy and bonding that comes from the optimum mentoring relationship?

In group mentoring some of the intimacy can be lost but it can also be magnified by the relationships formed by mentoring partners. Because a variety of personalities form the circle and recipients will interact with some if not all of the members, many relationships will be formed. The gains made by having multiple resources can enrich the mentoring process rather than diminish it.

If you have a newer small or midsize company and are truly committed to the development of your employees, a mentoring circle may be the answer for you. You may not have had the time to acquire a large group of senior employees who are interested in mentoring and having an individual mentor for each person and need to make the best use of those mentors you do have. Having a circle of qualified and committed mentors who are willing to share the demands of valuable mentoring work can maximize your resources. And individual employees may enjoy having a group available so they can always count on the assistance and guidance they need to develop and enrich their careers.

A mentoring circle can answer may needs and is definitely preferable to an insufficient program or no program at all. Consider it when making plans for employee development programs. You will be delighted with the results!
About the Author
Melissa Vokoun is a successful Business Advisor, Coach and Trainer. To learn more about the services available, please visit the website at: http://www.coachingqueen.com or call 847-392-6886.
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