CIC Blog: mentor
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, www.dqi.org.uk,
Information Modelling & Management Capability Programme (IMMCP) Delivery Team
Transport for London
With a background in Computer and Information Sciences I was never sure whether Construction Industry was the right sector for me. I was anxiously looking for a mentor and/or a guide who could advise me and give me the confidence to take control of my career path. So when I was asked to take part in a speed mentoring event I gladly agreed to participate. This was a great opportunity for me to obtain advice from professionals with years of industry experience.
The event was very well organised. A list of the mentors with their biographies was received several weeks before the date of the event. Most of the mentors were known to me but I still had plenty time to find out more about them. A breakfast briefing session was also arranged to provide an introduction to the concept of speed mentoring and discuss some potential questions and topics that we may want to raise with the mentors.
On the evening of the event there were about 40 people of all ages. We had half an hour to network before the event started. The event started with a welcome and a short overview of the evening and the purpose behind it and it was closed with the same speaker thanking everyone for attending. We were all allocated three mentors; two of our preferred choice and one ‘wild card’. The mentoring session lasted for about 45 minutes and during this time each mentee had the chance to speak to their pre-allocated mentors. Mentors had allocated seating with a corresponding letter to help the mentees find them. We all had 15 minutes each to discuss our personal vision for the next few years. 2 minutes before the 15 minutes were up we would receive a warning to wrap up our conversation and move to our next mentor.
Once the starting bell went the room exploded with intensity of several people talking at the same time, chaotic yet it was inspiring and remarkable! Some may say 15 minutes is not enough time to discuss your future career but short meetings can often be as useful as long programmes. In my case it was certainly enough time to get me thinking about what I could achieve with my educational background and give me the momentum to start planning ahead. On registration I was asked to provide a short paragraph about myself. I was very pleased that one of my mentors had put the effort in to reading it so he already had an idea of what I have achieved so far and what may be the best route for my career.
This was a great way to establish connections and to network with other individuals within the industry besides having the chance to seek information and insight from senior professionals whose constructive advice can go a long way! I found my mentors very easy to talk to, with a positive attitude and willing to share their experience and knowledge explicitly. This event is now one of my favourites as I actually got something out of it and it has made me wonder why mentoring isn’t more common? In today’s world sharing knowledge is a key to developing core skills, improving personal capabilities and would enable gaining competitive advantage and I believe construction industry holds a lot of hidden knowledge. We also have a lot of fantastic practitioners within the industry, who as mentors can give us their views on how things work (or should work), they can help us look at situations in new ways and they can certainly help define our career paths. These people are pushing the industry forward and we should make the most out of their knowledge and expertise. As someone in her mid-career level I would absolutely recommend attending a mentoring session.
Contributor: Sonia's background is in Computer Sciences and Information Systems Management. Sonia entered the world of Construction when she started her PhD at the University of Northumbria looking at impacts of BIM on Communication patterns of Construction projects. Sonia is an Incorporate member of the CIOB (ICIOB) and is currently working as a BIM consultant.