By Barry Sweeny, 2003
The support of a peer group has always been a critical opportunity for protege and mentor growth, primarily because those are the people who are learning what WE are learning. In fact, there are some significant discoveries that proteges always need to make, but which can only be effectively learned through peer interactions!
However, the characteristics of the younger generations of employees have made reliance on the peer group the PRIMARY source for support. In some cases, this makes peer support even more important than the mentoring of an experienced person. That fact has huge implications for mentoring programs!
This trend suggests that mentoring programs need to proactively seek ways to use the influence of the peer group to shape and support protege development in the desired directions. Otherwise, a focus on best practices may not be the result of the peer interaction. This is why the provision of regular peer support group meetings,which are carefully structured and skillfully facilitated, is so crucial for mentoring program success now days.
Research at the following link, clearly shows that without a mentor or coach’s follow up support in the workplace, the majority of what the protege may have learned in any peer support group meeting is not likely to be implemented in practice as improved performance. It’s part of the mentor’s job to be sure the protege’s learning results in growth and improvement in his or her work.
If you have not read the web page “How Mentoring is the Critical “Bridge” for Successful Development of People“, be sure to read it NOW! This article explains the ideas behind this principle of mentor follow up support for implementation.
THE BEST PROTEGE PEER SUPPORT FOLLOW UP PRACTICES
DEFINE the mentor’s role to include discussion, after the protege attends any peer support group meetings, about specific ways to implement in the protege’s work what the protege learned in those meetings. This process should include:
- Reviewing what the protege learned from the peer support group meeting
- Asking questions to ascertain the extent of the protege’s understanding of what was learned and possible need for further explanation of the topic or discovery by the mentor.
- Deciding, what peer support group learning need to implemented right away & what learning will be more useful later.
- Setting realistic longer-term goals and shorter-term objectives for implementing the learning in work.
- Planning the specific steps to implement that learning in the protege’s work, including time lines, resources needed, etc.
- Deciding how the mentor can support the protege’s plan to use the learning and skills gained from the peer support group meeting in the protege’s work.
If this sounds vaguely familiar, you are right. The above steps are essentially the same ones which mentors should follow in providing proteges with support to implement learning from ANY OTHER development program activities the organization provides.