Peer mentoring and supervision – Who Needs It?

A training session was held by Aly McNicholl on Wednesday 29 July focusing on peer mentoring. Peer Mentoring is also known as Peer Supervision, and is based on the concept that, ‘No One Knows As Much As All of Us’. 24 participants joined the course including voluntary and paid staff of local community organisations and Wellington City Council.  The topics presented included;

* Mentoring & supervision – who needs it?

* Peer mentoring – what can go wrong?

* Setting up peer mentoring groups

* Peer mentoring toolkit – processes for mentoring groups

* Ensuring sessions are value for time

 
The day started off with an introduction and a general check in of how we are feeling in our work roles at the present time. The concept of peer mentoring was introduced and we thought about topics such as, ‘what might go wrong’ which helped us to conceptualise what peer mentoring might look like, and specify concerns that we might have.

Various tools were presented in a booklet that defined the processes that the mentoring conversation should follow.  The steps for each tool vary slightly, and a key goal was to stick to the process although this was sometimes challenging.  For example, many of us found it hard to sit in the required silence during a step when the urge was to ‘jump in’.  In our training group, we felt it might take some time to become familiarised with each tool, but by being committed and sticking to the agreement made at the beginning of the session we could get alot out of the process.

Key points made were that a ‘peer mentoring’ group of between 4 to 6 people should be composed of people with equal standing (i.e. no hierachy or imbalance of power).  The group should be comprised of members who had opted to join the group on a voluntary basis and were committed to meeting on an agreed schedule. 

Although members of the group may have some commonalities, we found there was be much to be gained by having members from diverse backgrounds and roles, in our training group, whom could contribute different perspectives.  This includes, for example, diversity in gender, age, ethnicity and current role or work experience.  Another key consideration when creating your group is whether members should be comprised of people from one organisation (termed an ‘internal’ group) or from different organisations (termed ‘external’ group).

The one proviso Aly placed on the choice of group members is that the process works better with members (or at least the majority of members) whom have attended the training.  This is reflected in feedback Aly has received from previous trainees. Through the one day training, people are prepared for and understand the processes involved to a greater depth and are better able to commit themselves to participating in the group.

Contact Aly for further information or to enquire about training for individuals, train the trainer or group training for your organisation or read more about Peer Mentoring.

Submitted by Jennifer

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