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Tips for Effective Group Mentorship Facilitation

Elan S
Elan S
  • Updated

Group mentorship is a great way to build a supportive learning community and encourage new perspectives. Whether conducted in person or virtually, facilitating an effective group mentorship session requires intentional planning to ensure everyone feels comfortable participating. This article will guide mentors on how to keep their mentee groups engaged and offer practical tips for facilitating in both in-person and virtual environments.

Strategies for Hosting an Engaging Group Mentorship Session

  1. Get to know your group: Unlike one-on-one mentoring, group sessions involve multiple participants with differing experiences, expectations, and expertise. Build rapport among your group through icebreakers and get-to-know-you games that will establish a shared understanding of who makes up the learning community.

  2. Set clear objectives: Providing a roadmap for your mentees ensures everyone is aligned with the goals of the group mentorship program. At the start of the program, have your mentees work together to identify shared objectives for the program, and ask some guiding questions on how they will stay on track to attain these goals. This approach helps maintain focus and direction throughout the mentorship journey.

  3. Create a safe and welcoming environment: Establish ground rules and group expectations to foster authenticity, mutual respect, and confidentiality. Emphasize the importance of listening without judgment, maintaining confidentiality, and respecting diverse perspectives. This helps build trust and psychological safety, allowing participants to share openly and engage more deeply.

  4. Be mindful of power dynamics: Differences in experience, identity, or personality may create implicit or explicit power dynamics in the group. Encourage inclusive participation by actively inviting quieter members to share their thoughts and ensuring that more dominant voices do not overshadow others. Communicate that the goal of the program is to promote equitable participation and ensure that everyone’s voices are heard.

  5. Incorporate interactive activities: With more voices in the mix, individual participation may be slower. To keep the energy high and make learning more engaging, use interactive methods such as role-playing, collaborative projects, or breakout sessions for smaller group interactions. These activities allow for deeper connections among mentees and help maintain a dynamic and fast-paced learning environment.

Tips for Facilitating In-Person 

  1. Arrange seating in a circle to promote equality and open communication.
  2. Use whiteboards or flip charts for visual aids and collaborative brainstorming.
  3. Encourage participants to use non-verbal feedback, such as thumbs up/down, to quickly assess consensus.

Tips for Facilitating Virtually

  1. Ensure all participants are comfortable using the video conferencing technology, and that you have all tested it before the session starts.

  2. Use interactive tools like polls, quizzes, and collaborative documents to maintain engagement.

  3. Encourage the use of video to make interactions more personal and to read facial expressions.

Conclusion

By getting to know your group, setting clear objectives, creating a welcoming environment, mediating power dynamics, and incorporating activities, mentors can foster an effective and enjoyable experience for all participants. Tailoring your facilitation strategies to your environment —be it in-person or virtual— will help maintain engagement and achieve the desired outcomes of the mentorship program. 

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