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Mentoring Circles    [Date Added : 11/17/2017 ]
Mentoring circles are a form of group mentoring that encourages participants from all levels of an organization to propose and own a topic of interest. They are designed to give motivated employees an avenue to grow within the organization. They also help open doors for all employees, no matter seniority or department, to find or create a circle that motivates them.

Once a memory circle is created, other employees interested in similar growth and discussion can join and participate. These circles can occur virtually or in person depending on the organization’s needs. Topics cover a wide range of interests and groups, including working moms, new hires in the marketing department, or future project managers.

Before starting a mentoring circles program, take a moment to note the critical elements of a successful circle:

- Circles work best with between five and eight members participating. If groups grow much larger, participants speak up less and provide fewer individual contributions.

- Designate someone to administer the program - it will not run itself! Although circle leaders manage individual mentoring circles, you will still need an administrator to coach them along, encourage them to recruit participants, and celebrate their efforts.

- Establish goals for the program and publicize these to participants. Without set goals, a circle can meander and get off topic. Be sure participants come away feeling like they have accomplished something.

- Develop an efficient way for participants to propose circles, as well as a marketplace for participants to easily find a circle they will get excited about. Remember, you should make this process as streamlined as possible to keep motivation sky high.

- Track program health - how many people sign up, how many groups form, how well they persist over time, and participant satisfaction. If you have mentoring software, measuring this information becomes much simpler.

Mentoring circles allow employees to learn from one another in a supportive format, and also drive knowledge transfer and engagement. It is a new spin on a long-valued learning technique. And whether groups want to come together to provide mutual support, build professional networks, or develop specific skills, a mentoring circles program can be a creative new addition to any organization.

("Mentoring Circles: A New Spin on a Timeless Learning Technique," by Amanda Schnieders, td.org, October 31, 2017. Copyright 2017 ATD)
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