I wonder how many of you have experienced group mentoring. Does it sound a bit fluffy and unfocused? Not in my experience!
I am a great believer in this way of supporting, particularly women in enterprise, in this way. I have been using and facilitating Action Learning, as it is sometimes known, with a variety of organisations and individuals for at least 5 years and have seen individuals find “penny dropping moments” which help them sidestep their barriers, and find new ways of solving their problems and blocks in an environment where long term support develops and trusted allies are identified.
It works best when you can hold a regular series of meetings in which a small group get to know and trust each other, as they bring forward issues in a safe environment and gain help from their peers to see outside the “box”. This might be a group of people who want to work collaboratively, or who are individuals undergoing similar growth or start up issues like those that the Women2Web and WiRE members face on a regular basis. Each member of the group brings an issue or topic which they are grappling with, but don’t have the whole solution too. The rest of the group ask questions to develop clarity around the issue, which often helps those involved to see where there might be solutions, or that they have not thought through the range of options that might be open to them.
We have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Women2Web programme where group mentoring has been available at no cost to those attending, and we have followed this up with developing and holding a series of Masterclasses for women entrepreneurs which contains elements of group mentoring alongside some expert training, and one to one business advice. The focus on an area of your business, the peer support of likeminded women, and the confidence building that develops is very encouraging to see.
We often don’t prioritise time working on our businesses, as we are often too busy trying to generate new customers, delivering services or products, marketing, doing the invoices etc. We lose our objectivity, and feel swamped by all that we have to do. Go on – try group mentoring and see how this makes a difference to your clarity, focus, and how you drive your businesses on to be evermore successful.
Sue Fry is a director of MRE,a community interest company (CIC) offering ethical business support, advice, development and practical services in starting, running and building their business. Gill Hutchinson is an Associate of MRE and involved in delivering the Women2Web and MRE Masterclasses.
Sue is our guest blogger for June