Peer and Group Mentoring

Peer and Group Mentoring

Peer mentoring is ‘an equal relationship between two people who value and respect each other and believe each can enrich the other’ (John Mallison). The relationship is usually less formal and more flexible than the other two forms of mentoring (being mentor or mentee). Often it simply involves making more of a present friendship, while retaining the enjoyable, easy-going fun dimension of a close relationship. This readily available form of mentoring is often overlooked.

By becoming more intentional in a friendship, two people can be very effective mentors for each other. It may be good to make specific times for the mentoring conversations, and being committed to move deeper than you may normally be. Consider whether there is any fear or pride which may be a barrier. But avoid being too intense; conversations can be carried on while doing some of the things you enjoy doing together: having a meal, walking, playing sport and relaxing afterwards.

Group mentoring can also be very effective, especially if the focus is towards skills. Care must be taken to have clear expectations and boundaries, to prevent it becoming another version of a small group. Three or four people is an ideal number.

A specific form of group mentoring, useful for some contexts, is the use of Action Learning Sets. These involve a group of people (4-6) who commit to meeting and taking it in turns to present an issue to the rest of the group, who then help the presenter to work on it. Further details about Action Learning Sets are available from 3D Coaching, a coaching/training agency which has worked with individual women clergy and groups of women in some dioceses. (They also run ‘Moving On’ coaching which may be useful at particular stages in ministry.)