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How to use Mentoring Circles

Updated on August 4, 2011

Recently I have become a mentor for a developing executive who is managing a small business in a regional area. Earlier this week I spent a few days with him outling the role of a mentor and how we can work together to enable him to be more effective and to build capability.

The first part of my process was to work through what mentoring is about; which is is off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking. Mentoring is about providing support and advice - acting as a sounding board. It has no link to performance management or their appraisal. It focuses on the individuals development, well being and growth.

Once this is established you can get to know each other; develop trust; and then start working together through:

  • Exploration - understanding the issues
  • New understanding - finding new ways and methods of doing things
  • Action planning - working out plans for the future

When I finished the first session it got me thinking about the concept of 'mentoring circles' that evolved from a MBA course back in 2009. The lecturer asked the group to form into mentoring groups that would assist each other during the course and share ideas and concepts. At our first mentoring circle workshop we developed a model for mentoring and supporting each member of the team. The model is (consider this a revolving circle):

  1. Define the problem with an open mind
  2. Develop ideas creatively
  3. Involve stakeholders and other experts
  4. Develop plans and action items
  5. Implementation
  6. Review and evaluate
  7. Go back to step #1

This enable the team to solve problems, make decisions and to mentor individuals within the team. The outcome? The team received a Distinction for their project work.

Mentoring and solving problems using these models have helped me be more effective in my roles. What is your experience?

Cheers!

Michael



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