Mentoring Circles for Professional Development

Mentoring Circles for Professional Development

Mentoring is defined as professional development support provided by experienced colleagues.  While this sharing of wisdom and experience is generally focused on the needs of the mentee, the mentor is also learning from the experience, creating a circular process.  Within the Genuine Contact way of working, this traditional 1:1 relationship is broadened into a group of people or a mentoring circle.

Mentoring circles can be formed from many diverse groups of people. Some examples include:

  • people within an organization sharing collective organizational experience and wisdom
  • people working in a specific field across several organizations sharing their best practices and experience to generate collective wisdom
  • people working in their area of expertise along with those at school learning that field, with those working in the field sharing their wisdom and expertise while those at school have the opportunity to share current learnings and modern technologies

Essentially, mentoring circles can be formed by any group of people who have a common interest and a collective desire to learn and grow from the mentoring experience.

Benefits of Mentoring Circles

When a group of people come together in a mentoring circle

  • knowledge sharing is amplified
  • team development occurs without a specific team building exercise
  • relationships are created and/or strengthened around a common business purpose
  • individual and collective leadership capacity is increased without a  specific focus on leadership development

The Genuine Contact approach to mentoring can be used to support:

  • a group of people participating in learning/training together to better apply the learning into their everyday work
  • knowledge sharing across teams or departments
  • professional development amongst people in different levels of seniority or different generations on a similar career track

How to Create a Mentoring Circle

Recognize the benefit of participating in a mentoring circle? These guidelines can help you to begin creating a mentoring circle for your organization:

  • Consider the purpose of the mentoring circle. For what benefit will this mentoring circle exist?
  • What leadership is necessary for this mentoring circle to be successful?
  • What outcomes do you intend to achieve through this mentoring circle?
  • Who are the right people to invite into this mentoring circle as participants? Ensure you have a broad enough spectrum of people in the mix to offer the greatest benefit. This might mean considering a mixture of new hires/front line workers, those with a few years experience and those with seniority, for example.
  • How will your mentoring circle be organized? Consider the frequency and duration of mentoring meetings, how you connect in between times and how long the .  How will your mentoring circle be facilitated? We recommend participatory meeting methodologies like Whole Person Process Facilitation or Open Space Technology.

You can also learn more about how to create and facilitate mentoring circles in this workshop.

Rachel Bolton
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Senior Consultant and Coach

Rachel Bolton is a senior consultant and coach specializing in work with small business and start-ups at Dalar. She works internationally with small business leaders as a mentor and coach, with a focus on assisting small businesses to build a solid foundation for optimal growth from a clear and inspired purpose, strategic vision, and appropriate structure for the business’ development.
Rachel Bolton
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