Mentoring: on to round two
For a project that's been crafted over time, AQR's mentoring scheme is now really motoring following the launch of the initial speed dating evening previewed in the last In Brief. This saw five mentees successfully paired with mentors, and those who couldn't take part on the night positively champing at the bit. The good news for the rest of the mentees (and mentors) is that they will be matched as soon as possible, taking the learning from the first round.
There was a degree of apprehension leading up to the night. After all, it was new territory for most of those involved. It soon melted away, however, as the participants got lost in talk. Indeed, says Trish Parker who, along with Gerald Kreinczes and Vanessa Rogers, are spearheading the mentoring scheme, "it was brilliant. We could have chatted to most mentees for at least half an hour, and it was enjoyable meeting such a wide range of people."
Some of the learning could involve the format of the next speed dating session, to pace it so that all attendees get the most out of it. Eight seven-minute conversations, taken without a break, might induce a bit of breathlessness in the hardiest of souls. Indeed, the mentees gave their potential mentors a pretty good run for their money. What Gerald found fascinating, though, was how each one would have a different set of questions for the mentors (who have all signed confidentiality agreements), taking charge in a different way.
Speed dating definitely seems to meet at least one requirement. "All research that's been done on "talking cures", mostly into psychotherapy rather than mentoring or counselling, points to the single most important criterion being the nature of the relationship between the two parties," he says. "So getting that as right as possible is really important to the success of what follows after.
"The other key criterion is the willingness of the mentee to take on board what emerges from the conversations. But most of all it's getting the chemistry right, because so much is "do I trust this person, do I respect them, do I believe they have my best interests at heart?""
An interesting phenomenon is that, though mentees were meant to be new to the business, some were in their first or second jobs while others had worked in different areas but had now decided to be quallies. This meant their life experience and role in the company were not always the same.
The feedback so far is good, with everyone keeping their fingers crossed that the chemistry is right. The next batch of pairings, meanwhile, will be organised as soon as possible bearing in mind the limitations of geography, diaries, and an industry that is often very "last minute". Let's hope that the partnerships prosper. We will be keeping a watching brief.
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, November 2012
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2012