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Peer Mentorship

12 Ideas for peer mentoring activities

If you're starting a peer mentoring program here are 12 ideas for activities you can do while meeting together.

Ryan Carruthers

November 26, 2021

A workplace mentoring program doesn’t have to be limited to 1-on-1’s between senior employees and more junior ones. Employees can get tremendous benefit from mentoring eachother, whether 1-on-1 or in a group setting. 

If you’re starting a peer mentoring program in your workplace, this article will outline 12 different activities that pairs or groups can do. The activities include icebreakers, thoughtful questioning, and challenges to get employees talking about their goals, challenges, and how to grow in their careers. 

What is peer mentorship?

Peer mentoring is a form of mentoring where colleagues coach and guide one another. There are usually not enough senior leaders or employees in workplace mentoring programs to mentor all the junior team members. For that reason, matching peers to mentor one another is a convenient solution. 

Peers have a lot they can offer one another through mentorship. They can enhance each other's growth, share best practices, and navigate through challenging circumstances. They're at similar career stages, so the advice they give may be more relevant. They might be experiencing similar issues at the same time. So it would be helpful for them to discuss this together, figure out why these things might be happening, what the best solution might be, how to overcome it and thrive from that point on.

Peer mentorship can take two forms:

  1. 1-on-1
  2. Group mentoring

Both models have their advantages. In 1-on-1 peer mentoring, employees can focus on building a partnership focused on holding one another accountable and working together. Similarly, group mentorship is great for large groups where the goal of the mentorship program is to encourage community building and collaboration. 

Regardless of which model you choose, peers should have certain mindsets and expectations when engaging in a peer mentoring relationship.

What skills should a peer mentor have?

There are certain qualities that pairs should have to build a successful peer mentoring relationship. Each employee should:

  • Be willing to learn and grow but also to teach or share their knowledge with their peer.
  • Have an open mind and behave respectfully towards their mentor.
  • Cultivate a positive experience by being reliable, hard-working, and showing initiative.
  • Be good role models. They should be professionals that act with integrity at all times.
  • Be serious about holding themselves and their peers accountable.
  • Be willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

Overall, if employees are enthusiastic about connecting and open to hearing new perspectives, they’ll be set up for success.

12 Ideas for peer mentoring activities

Here are 12 different ideas for peer mentoring activities to engage colleagues and spur conversations that lead to new insights, growth, and accountability.

1. Lunch and learn

In a lunch and learn, peers take turns presenting an interesting topic to their partner. For example, if one peer comes from sales and the other comes from engineering, they can each share insights from their day-to-day on how to best serve their customers. 

The sales mentor may run the engineer through the most common challenges that they hear from prospects. Likewise, the engineer may share how what they’re building addresses some of those challenges. 

The point is to encourage each participant to leverage their unique skills and insights to teach others.

2. Question prompts 

In this activity, pairs or groups can pull from a bank of questions to ask one another thoughtful questions that encourage conversation. For example, participants may ask one another, “tell me about a time you had to pitch something to a manager.” Answer the prompts and draw learning from each other's experiences.

3. “Show and Tell!” 

In this activity, participants both bring in photos or items that are important to them. They share the story behind the photo and why it’s meaningful to them. This is a great icebreaker activity to reveal what drives the different participants or what their values are.

4. Set SMART career goals

Setting long-term career goals are important for giving participants something to work towards. It also clarifies the whole point of mentorship: it’s to help them grow and reach their goals. Share career goals you have and reword them to be in the SMART goal framework. Work out an actionable plan to start making progress toward those career goals. 

When setting goals, use the SMART framework, which stands for: 

Specific - be as detailed as you can about your goals.

Measurable - have some way to measure your progress towards your goal.

Attainable - a goal needs to be something that you can reasonably attain. 

Relevant - career goals should be directly related to your career path.

Timely - set a deadline so you know when you will accomplish your goal.

5. Make a list of things you want to do or accomplish during your lifetime and share them

Similar to setting career goals, this activity encourages groups or pairs to share their life goals or aspirations. It’s a great activity to get to know one another more and talk about what’s important to you. Try to write down 10 different “bucket-list” items you have and share them. From there, you can try the next activity to plan how you will check off those experiences on your bucket list.

6. “What’s your plan?” 

Setting goals or sharing aspirations is an important part of mentoring, but equally important is mapping out a path to achieve them. In this activity, make a timeline of your life over the next 5‐10 years. What do you want to accomplish? After, discuss with one another what needs to happen to close the gap between here and reaching that goal. This should be a practical discussion. 

Expect barriers to come up in the conversation. When they do, don’t get stuck, but dig into what’s holding you or your partner back. Overcoming these challenges is where meaningful mentorship starts to happen.

7. Icebreaker questions using a deck of cards

If you’re still working on building a peer mentoring relationship, a great icebreaker activity to do is to draw from a deck of cards to ask certain questions. Number each question and then draw that question based on the number on the card you pull. 

You can make the questions ahead of time. Think of what you could ask one another that would help you learn about one another. They can be light-hearted or thoughtful. Anything that gets the conversation going is welcome. Hypercontext has a lot of great 1-on-1 questions to draw from.

8. Quadrants icebreaker

In this exercise, you’ll need a page, whether in person or digital. You’ll create four boxes. Fill out each as follows:

  • Family (Upper Left), 
  • Friends (Upper Right), 
  • Hobbies (Bottom Left), and
  • Life goals (Bottom Right). 

Fill out each quadrant to get to know one another. This exercise is a great way to encourage discussion around similar interests or goals.

9. Inside-out

This activity is great to encourage peer mentoring groups to open up. Start with a reversible bag. Whoever holds the bag will start by explaining to the group how they perceive themselves on the outside. After they have expressed themselves, they turn the bag inside out and discuss what they’re feeling on the inside. After they’ve gone, the group can discuss what was shared before moving to the next person.

This activity encourages groups to open up with one another. 

10. Coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success Activity

In 1948 John Wooden, the basketball coach who led the UCLA men's basketball team to win 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years (1964-1975), created a framework for being a better person. What became an iconic diagram for success has helped athletes, corporations, and individuals chart a path to success and personal growth. 

The pyramid has 14 blocks of different character traits, with the 15th block at the top of the pyramid is competitive greatness. Wooden described it as “Be at your best when your best is needed. Enjoyment of a difficult challenge.”

In this activity, groups will each get the 15 character traits that make up Wooden’s pyramid of success. They’ll then arrange the character traits into the diagram, placing the most important traits at the top and the least important at the bottom. 

When everyone has arranged their pyramid, go around and answer the following questions:

  • Choose your top three traits. Why are these traits most important to you?
  • Did you learn something new about yourself?
  • Were you surprised to learn that you had a characteristic in common with someone else?

11. Consider a big decision together

One of the great reasons to have a peer mentor is they can help you make big decisions for your career. They can help you consider all the variables and make the best possible decision. In this activity, map out a decision together, weighing the pros and cons. After you’ve concluded, consider how you came to the decision you did. Did it reveal anything about your values, your fears, what drives you? This is a practical exercise but also a reflective one. 

12. Job shadowing

Job shadowing can be a great opportunity to learn from other employees and gain insight into their roles. Pairs can schedule a time to follow their peer mentor around for a day. The goal is to gain insight into the company, different positions and responsibilities, and help set career goals. 

Consider a project that allows a mentor and mentee to work alongside each other. It could be researching or writing an article together or even a company committee that they could join together. 

Ready to start a peer mentoring program?

To build a successful mentoring program, you need to have a bank of ideas you can draw from for mentoring sessions. Check out our guide on how to start a mentoring program. It breaks down everything you need to know as an organization when starting a mentoring program. 

Likewise, when beginning your mentoring program, you’ll need our best practices guide. We’ve compiled the best practices from the first-hand experience of program administrators and the expertise of the Together team.

If you’re ready to get started building a peer mentorship program for your organization, we can help. Find out how Together’ mentoring software can work with you to create a successful mentoring program by booking a connecting with us for 30 minutes today.

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