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Mentoring Circles are more powerful than one-on-one mentoring


Once again, we are talking about delivering diversity business benefits most effectively and efficiently by using Mentoring Circles.


Gerald Roche in his research showed that (Much ado about Mentoring):

-         Mentoring occurs mostly during the first five years of a career;

-         Those who have had a mentor derive greater satisfaction from their careers;

-         Those who had a mentor were better paid at an earlier age and moved into positions of responsibility faster than those without a mentor.


Ellen Fagenson (The Power of Mentors) describes how mentored individuals claimed:

-      They had greater influence on organisational policies, had better access to important people and greater ability to obtain needed resources;

-      Mentoring relationships increased feelings of empowerment and heightened communication and productivity.


The above clearly indicate, and it is widely acknowledged, that mentoring is one of the most powerful means of helping high potential people from non-traditional backgrounds, e.g. women, minority ethnics, disabled people, succeed. Hence, it helps drive high performance; because it is a key contributor to advancing and retaining under-represented talent.


My question is: why is such an important activity almost always delivered on a one-on one basis? Mentoring Circles, usually between 6 and 8 mentees and 1, or 2, mentors in each circle, are indisputably superior. This is because:

1.      The organisation is able to use committed and able mentors; because of the much higher mentee to mentor ratio.

2.      They are more efficient in the use of senior resources, i.e. the mentors.

3.      The mentees learn from each other as well as from their mentors.

4.      The mentees are exposed to the issues of other mentees and not just their own.

5.      The Circles provide the possibility for diverse membership and, consequently, opportunities to learn about the issues faced by people who are different.

6.      Often the mentees in each Circle become a support network to each other and this can last for much of their careers.

7.      The mentors learn the issues facing people from a younger generation and who are diverse in different ways to themselves.


IDC has helped many clients introduce Mentoring Circles and our experience is that it is a highly resource efficient means of effectively developing high potential talent. It helps ’create an equal playing field’ for diverse talent for selection and advancement.


Dr Ian Dodds,

27 Apr 09

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