Speed mentoring…hmmmm…

Ok, so feeling a little ridiculous right now. It’s 3.32am and I have given up fighting the little voice in my head. I have to get my thoughts out there. Speed mentoring. Really?

When I first heard the term used it was by an American colleague who was contacting me about a mentoring programme she wanted me to work on with her and my other stateside peers. My first thought was, of course, ‘Is that like speed dating?’…and, after research, apparently it is. Now, I have a problem with that. But I also see how it can work.

Maude is undoubtedly the fastest chicken I know. She can be in the house before I close the gate to the pen. Often sneaking around the front and catching me unawares…

Speed mentoring is defined as an event at which a ‘mentee’ elicits advice from a ‘mentor’ within a limited period of time, before moving on and asking another ‘mentor’ the same or different questions.The same as speed dating. Mentoring is recognised as a relationship between two people that develops over time for the benefit of both, whether that relationship be sponsorship or developmental.

However, while the concept is difficult for me to fathom, I can see where a speed mentoring idea can be useful:

  1. Choosing a mentor/mentee. What a great way to narrow down the person you can go on to develop a mentoring relationship with! Speed mentoring provides the opportunity to meet lots of potential mentors/mentees within a short space of time. It makes you focus on the simple reasons why you want a mentor/mentee in the first place. Based on the responses you can determine professional compatibility, based on instinct you can determine personal compatibility.
  2. Within a community of practice. A community of practice is fundamentally a group of professionals developing a mentoring relationship with each other.. I can see the potential for advice to be provided within a limited period of time. This practices focusing the mind for all parties concerned. The responses can then be discussed by the wider group or taken away and digested by the person with the initial issue.
  3. As a learning/problem solving tool. I am thinking mainly of my practice as a scrum master in this aspect, but it could be applied in any project management situation in which learning (retrospectives), or planning refinements are part of the process. Each member of the team can take their turn sharing a problem they have encountered or foresee, or seek advice on improving an aspect of their professional development. Limiting the amount of time everyone has to respond again, focuses the mind and helps to ensure that answers are pertinent.

Within the examples above, I have tried to maintain the link with mentoring by focusing on the relationships between the people acting as mentors and those playing the part of mentee. I do think it provides a great platform for a mentoring relationship to develop from, but to consider it mentoring if all you do is speak briefly to a number of strangers that you will not see again? To me, that is a great way to get unbiased advice, to elicit some personal reflective criticism, to find a new direction… but it is not mentoring.

I have included some articles below that you may also find of interest in making up your own mind…that is, if you are like me and find yourself awake at 3am pondering the meaning of mentoring…

Resources

Is “Speed Mentoring” Really Mentoring? (2017), The Art of Mentoring. Accessed online at [https://artofmentoring.net/speed-mentoring/]

Speed mentoring: Seven steps to a successful session (2017), The Edge for Scholars. Accessed online at [https://edgeforscholars.org/speed-mentoring-seven-steps-to-a-successful-session/]

4 benefits of using speed mentoring (2017), Insala. Accessed online at [http://www.insala.com/Articles/4-benefits-of-using-speed-mentoring.asp]

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