Group and Individual Mentoring

5/12/2015

Cultural mentoring is one of the four key cultural skills and is essential to helping people new to a specific culture learn about what is expected, reinforced and rewarded in that particular environment. Mentors not only ease the transition of a person or group to a new culture, but they increase their mentees’ effectiveness, which benefits the employee, their team and the company as a whole.

Mentoring can take place between an individual mentor and mentee, and between a mentor and a group of people. Examples of individual mentoring include informal, goal-oriented discussions between a junior person seeking advice from their senior, and also discussions in which the mentor is not necessarily a senior to or even colleague of the mentee, but has more experience working in a given environment.

Group mentoring, on the other hand, includes employee resource groups, or affinity teams, in which people with common interests or common demographics form a group based on membership identity. Two brief examples of group mentoring are:

  • A group of employees of Indian origin who work together in their company’s US headquarters meet over lunch to talk about challenges they face adapting to American cultural work styles.
  • A group of several female tech professionals give each other advice on advancing their careers and making an impact in their company’s male-dominated IT department.

In each of the above examples, the person in the group who has more experience in the given environment gives advice to and counsels the others who are new to the situation. Organizations often leverage this type of group mentoring to help motivate employees and also to gain valuable insights into their target demographic.

Mentoring relationships help keep employees informed about the best ways to handle their specific cultural situation and provide a feeling of safety and support, which leads to higher morale. Mentors are an integral part of employee development, and companies that support formal and informal, and individual and group, mentoring reap the rewards of a more engaged and savvy employee base.

Bettina Neidhardt