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Why we should embrace Speed Mentoring

Posted: 22nd October 2014

Andrew Link

Chief Operating Officer

Construction Industry Council

In the past three months CIC has hosted two speed-mentoring events and has two more planned, I’m going to share with you what I learnt, as a mentor, and why we should all embrace speed mentoring.

1. It’s basic and proven

Knowledge management in every business is a priority, small business want to gather more and use it wisely, big business want to harness their knowledge and not waste it.

Mentoring is knowledge sharing in its simplest form. Two people face-to-face sharing and learning in a personal way. It’s a proven way to pass on knowledge from one generation to the next. The construction sector’s master and apprentice mentoring relationship has been effective for hundreds of years and has lead to great creations around the world. It’s important that face-to-face mentoring be a part of every business’s knowledge sharing plan supported by other tools rather than replaced.

2. It’s good fun

Speed mentoring follows a similar format to speed dating in that you get to move around the room meeting new people for a fixed period of time, when the time is up a gong rings and you move to the next person.

My first thought of each meeting, which can be around 15-20 minutes long, was that this could not be enough time to have a meaningful conversation but I’ve been proven wrong. It’s just the right length to keep the energy in the room high, the conversations focused and the evening moving along. The short duration of the event also mean it is not onerous on those attending to dedicate huge amounts of their time, this opens up attendance to those individuals from the business who may not normally attend but many have a lot to offer.

3. Everyone is there for the right reasons

Everyone who attends speed mentoring has honorable intentions. They are there to learn first and teach second. As a mentor I got to learn about the experiences and challenges faced by three professionals who have recently entered the sector, it is great to take this perspective away with me to look at in our own organisation as well as providing my initial thoughts and experiences to the mentee there and then.

4. It’s finds and builds mutual relationships quickly

There has to be a mutual desire of both parties to be involved in mentoring for it to be effective or get going at all. The advantage of meeting many mentors in quick succession is that discovering these mutual relationships is so much easier and faster that it would be using a traditional approach meaning there much less time wasted.

5. Wildcards are not so wild

We gave our mentees an element of choice in two out of the three mentors they met. The third mentor however was our ‘wildcard’ and was allocated at random after removing roles or business similar to the mentees own from the available pot. What we discovered from mentees feedback was that the wildcard mentors were great as they provided a completely fresh perspective on problems the mentors raised and helped them understand the different disciplines involved in the sector better.

6. Both mentor and mentee benefit

When the structured part of the speed-mentoring event comes to an end there is an open networking session, where mentees and mentors can mix freely over a few drinks and share experiences or pick up on earlier conversations.

It’s at this stage where you realise just how much mentors as well as mentees take away positives from the experience. There wasn’t a single mentor who didn’t express their delight in the event and some felt they got more out of it that mentees. I guess that shows us that when it comes to mentoring we are never to old to learn.

If you’d like to give speed mentoring a try we have two events planned on November 6th 2014 in London and Leeds and have spaces for both mentors and mentees.

What's your view on the importance of mentoring, can we do more? Please share your thoughts.

Contributor: Andrew Link is Chief Operating Officer of the Construction Industry Council and oversees the Design Quality Indicator,,