Mentoring, Round Table

Speed, flash, mentoring circles or round tables – does these sound the bell?

Mentoring, coaching, facilitating, moderating – we all hear these words when talking about a great Project Manager. Do we really understand what they mean? In the next two posts I would like to write about mentoring. Definitions and types this time. Benefits from the mentoring in the next post.

We already know from my previous post  that the majority of learning comes from interaction with others: 70% of development comes from learning on the job and 20% from learning from others and this is where mentoring comes in. Only 10% of development comes from formal training.

Flash mentoring with Martin Price - Thomson Reuters London Unconference 2012

Flash mentoring with Martin Price – Thomson Reuters London Unconference 2012

What is mentoring?

“A relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses their greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff” (UK Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance (The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring)


Types of mentoring:

  1. One-to-one Mentoring
  2. Peer mentoring
  3. Reverse mentoring
  4. Mentoring circle
  5. Flash mentoring
  6. Speed mentoring

As probably one-to-one and peer mentoring are the most known types of mentoring, reverse, flash, speed and mentoring circles or round tables are getting more and more popular these days.

In the reverse mentoring, the mentee has more overall experience (typically as a result of age) than the mentor (who is typically younger), but the mentor has more knowledge in a particular area. More on this type of mentoring can be found here.

Mentoring Circles” were developed by Inova Consultancy in 2001 and use an innovative methodology which combines the benefits gained from one to one mentoring with those from working with a group of peers. A combination of action learning, coaching and peer mentoring principles provides mentees with a wider source of support and inspiration for idea generation and greater creativity in problem solving during crucial times in their life. More can be found here.

Another popular type of mentoring is flash mentoring – defined as “a one-time meeting or discussion that enables an individual to learn and seek guidance from a more experienced person who can pass on relevant knowledge and experience. The purpose of flash mentoring is to provide a valuable learning opportunity for less experienced individuals while requiring a limited commitment of time and resources for more. A variation of sequential flash mentoring is speed mentoring?. In speed mentoring the mentors (experts on different fields) sit in a semi-circle facing outwards. The exact same number of mentees sit on chairs facing them. They have dedicated time (10-20 minutes) to discuss the topic they are interested in before moving on. Each mentee has a chance to speak to a few different professionals. An example of a speed mentoring here.

We can also come across a group flash or group speed mentoring, sometimes called “round table“. In a group flash mentoring  an expert – mentor is paired with a small group of mentees for a one-time meeting or discussion. A variation of this flash mentoring technique is group speed mentoring, where a mentor meets with a small group of mentees for, some time and then rotates to another group of mentees. Round table is a similar to flash/speed form of discussion. Participants agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate. Each person is given equal right to participate, because of the circular layout usually used in round table discussions.

Thomson Reuters London Unconference 2012

Thomson Reuters London Unconference 2012

Nowadays, where there are a lot of project management conferences and we do not know which one is worth attending,  organizers, bearing in mind that learning from others is more beneficial than just listening to a presentation add different forms of  mentoring to the events. Let me quote my colleague Hannah Kidson from Thomson Reuters who was taking about our internal event called unconference: “This wasn’t your normal sit down and listen event, we wanted to get people on their feet, talking to each other, sharing ideas and even presenting to each other on a wide range of project management topics. Leading up to the event, people attending had been asked to volunteer to lead a half hour session on any topic related to project management they wanted to.  We had a great response and were able to offer 30 presentations for people to attend, split over 5 time slots throughout the day.

If you find “round table” formula attractive please join me at Agile Management 2013 conference in Warsaw (13-14 Nov), where I will be facilitating tables on: Ideal Agile Team, Agile in Virtual Environment and Agile and Infrastructure Projects. And on the 11th December I will be in Berlin at Advanced Project Management for the Utility and Power Generation Industry conference chairing a table on “Challenges of Implementing Agile Project Management”.

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