Mentoring Groups vs 1-on-1: Which is Better?

When you're starting a workplace mentoring program you may not consider running group mentoring instead of traditional 1-on-1 mentoring. Depending on the outcomes you're hoping to achieve with your program one might be better suited than the other. In this article we outline the differences between group and 1-on-1 mentorship and explain which to use depending on your goals.

Ryan Carruthers

Published on 

October 28, 2021

Updated on 

Time to Read

mins read time

Companies use mentoring to achieve different business objectives, including reducing turnover or improving diversity and inclusivity at your organization. But did you know that not every mentoring experience is the same? There are different types of mentoring designed to achieve different goals. When building a great mentoring program for your business, you need to know whether your participants will respond better to 1-on-1 mentoring or group mentoring.

The Difference Between 1-On-1 Mentoring And Group Mentoring Programs

Mentoring experiences offer both relationship building and skill development among employees. However, the method can differ between mentoring program types. 

Group mentoring

Group mentoring involves one or more mentors with several mentees. In these scenarios, peers and leaders are invited to discuss common goals, challenges, and ideas. A key benefit to group mentoring is the collaboration involved. Each participant gains the collective knowledge and expertise of the group to solve problems they’re facing. It can also lead to new, innovative ideas. 

Group mentoring goes beyond the notion that two heads are better than one as there are several involved. 

At Together, when we help large organizations build world-class mentoring programs we see group mentoring used for the following reasons:

  • Onboarding new hires and connecting them with an executive to get them acquainted with the culture and company.
  • Helping build connections between remote and hybrid employees as our workplaces grapple with return to work strategies.

We’ll go into more detail about examples of group mentoring below, but first let’s look at what 1-on-1 mentoring is.

1-on-1 mentoring

In 1-on-1 mentorships, more experienced employees are connected with more junior employees. The mentor often acts as a guide and advisor to the mentee. 

However, it can also be used as a form of peer mentoring, which allows colleagues to mentor each other. This is beneficial as each participant shares their unique strengths and offers support.

We see 1-on-1 mentoring used by companies in the following ways:

  • Traditional mentoring where an executive helps a more junior employee achieve their career goals through guidance, advice, and encouragement.
  • Reverse mentoring which is where the traditional mentoring relationship is flipped. The more junior employees mentor the leader on topics like new technology or ways of working. It’s also common for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives that give employees from diverse backgrounds access to leadership.

Now that we’ve briefly explored the differences between group and 1-on-1 mentoring let’s look in more detail at examples of each.

Examples Of Mentoring Groups

You can use group mentoring in a number of ways to help employees develop and grow. Here are a few examples of how your organization and employees can benefit from group mentoring programs. 

Training new managers 

When you hire several new managers around the same time, onboarding them and ensuring they are equipped for their roles may be a challenge. With group mentoring, a senior manager can bring all the new managers together to discuss the nuances of their roles. It is also a space where you can provide new managers with support and guidance. In addition, many managers are promoted because they excel in their jobs. Yet, they’ll need some management training to be successful in their new position. 

With Together’s mentoring software, you’ll be able to design and run a new manager group mentoring program easily. We make matching new managers seamless with our algorithm that you can customize to fit the objectives of your program. Together also offers meeting agendas that you can adjust to suit the unique needs of your management team. 

An employee resource group

Employee resource groups (ERGs) are another example of group mentoring. In these settings, employees with similar backgrounds can find common ground and work together to bring positive changes to their workplace. ERGs can also be a place where employees are able to discuss their unique perspectives and offer support to one another. You can use group mentoring through ERGs to further diversity and inclusivity objectives in your company. 

Connecting remote teams

Over the past year, we’ve all become familiar with remote and hybrid work environments. One of the challenges that working from home can bring is a sense of isolation. Introducing a mentoring program into a remote or hybrid workplace is a great way to connect dispersed employees who may be grappling with feelings of disconnection or isolation. It can also be a proactive way to build team cohesiveness among remote workers. 

eBook Not Sure Where To Start? Pick The Best Mentorship Model For Your Organization

Examples Of 1-On-1 Mentoring

Different mentoring styles can be used to achieve different business objectives. 1-on-1 mentoring can help your organization in a number of ways, such as:

Mentoring programs for high potential talent

Developing high-potential employees is something your organization doesn’t want to overlook. One of the ways that mentoring can help high-potentials move up in your company is through succession planning. This is the process of preparing future leaders to be ready to take on more responsibilities. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to do this correctly.

Mentoring programs are a great way to hang onto high-potential employees because it can challenge them, and these types of employees enjoy it. It can also improve employee engagement and reduce turnover rates. With Together’s platform, you’ll be able to build a successful mentoring program for high-potential talent. It will allow you to guide and track the development of your high potential employees as they progress through your mentoring program. 

Pairing colleagues for a peer mentoring onboarding program

Setting up your new hires for success is crucial. Research has found that 20 to 30 percent of new employees leave the company within the first 90 days. Mentoring as part of your onboarding process can engage new employees faster and help them feel a part of the culture. 

Similarly, a peer mentoring program is when employees at similar levels are paired together, unlike 1-on-1 mentorships where a senior employee is matched with a junior. Peer mentoring is effective for new hires because they can gain access to a support person immediately. Going to a senior executive with questions can be intimidating, but having someone on a similar level help you out is reassuring. Using peer mentoring, you’ll be able to help your new hire find the feet in your company. 

Cross-generational mentoring or reverse mentoring

Another type of 1-on-1 mentoring is reverse mentoring. Traditional mentorships pair senior leaders with younger workers, and the mentor is expected to help the mentee with guidance and advice. 

In reverse mentoring, the junior employee is the mentor, and the senior leader is the mentee. This allows for fresh perspectives of senior executives, notably on changing trends in technology or the future of work. Reverse mentoring is a particularly effective way to engage millennials because studies have shown they want to be seen by leadership and value having someone to support their career growth.

Is Group Mentoring Better Than 1-On-1 Mentoring?

Mentoring is a dynamic way to engage employees, encourage growth, and build a strong organization. Both 1-on-1 mentoring and group mentoring can be effective, but are best suited for different goals. 

The type of mentoring program you run will depend on the objectives your business has for the program. It’s key to define your goals and objectives for your workplace mentoring program before deciding what mentorship style will work. 

Common objectives for mentoring programs are:

  • Develop emerging leaders
  • Onboard faster
  • Promote diversity
  • Career development
  • Employee retention

To learn about real organizations running mentoring programs, check out our article, examples of successful mentoring programs.

How To Start A Mentoring Program That Runs Itself With Together

Whether you opt for 1-on-1 or group mentorships, Together’s platform can help you build a program that runs itself. Our mentoring software allows you to customize your mentoring program. You’ll be able to adjust the registration questions, use your own branding, so it’s familiar to users, and modify the curriculum content to suit your needs. 

Take the pain out of the pairing process using Together’s sophisticated pairing algorithm, which you can customize to refine matches. You’ll also be able to sit back and watch your program grow and succeed with our built-in reporting feature. Our intuitive platform provides everything you need in one central place, and it integrates with existing employee calendars and emails so your participants can get started quickly. 

Book a demo today, and let us show you what we can build together.

About the Author

scrollbar code:
close button

Hear how they started with Together