Institutional Change

Cultivate Mentorship

Creating a culture of constant learning and reflection can happen through mentorship, whether you encourage it informally or create a formal mentorship program in your workplace.

This activity is called “Speed Mentoring” which can help your organization facilitate both internal and external mentoring relationships. It can also help you take a non-traditional approach to mentoring by encouraging reverse mentoring (e.g., emerging leaders serve as mentors to more senior colleagues). Speed mentoring is effective because mentees and mentors get to experience a number of different interactions in a short period of time. This maximizes the opportunity to find a suitable mentor/mentee relationship. The activity can also help support staff to get to know each other as individuals and build trust and openness in the group.


1-2 hours

Group Size


Skill Level


Comfort Level



Blank name, black Sharpies, bell, timer, business cards, space to accommodate two concentric circles of chairs facing each other

Step 1

Give a brief overview of mentorship using available resources from the Playbook. Feel free to share printed handouts of the following materials or summarize the key points on a few slides or Flip Chart Pages:

Clearly explain that the goal of this activity is to explore areas in which you can both mentor and be mentored, as well as meet potential matches. While you will likely not walk away with a mentor or mentee, this activity is meant to be a first step towards building the foundation for a strong, healthy mentorship relationship.

Introduce the Speed Mentoring activity, where speed dating meets mentoring and teammates participate in a series of short, focused conversations about specific professional questions.  It is important to mention that this activity is only the beginning of a mentor/mentee relationship, and not a one-and-done activity.

Participants will meet with a number of potential mentors or mentees in quick, 10-minute bursts. When directed, participants will switch to another partner.

The end goal is to identify suitable potential mentor-mentee matches. A few key things to keep in mind:

  • Anyone can be a mentor or mentee
  • The match does not depend on the mentor having more experience or being older
  • Learning can, and should, go both ways

Step 2

Pass out the “Hello My Name Is” nametags and sharpies. Ask participants to make up a first name based on a professional topic or phrase that they know a lot about and could mentor someone else on. Then ask them to make a last name based on a professional topic or phrase that they want to be mentored on. (For example, Hello My Name Is Networking Management)

Step 3

Have two concentric circles of 12 chairs set up in the room with the outer circle and inner circle chairs facing towards each other. Invite everyone to take a seat in one of the chairs in the two concentric circles and face a partner.

Ready, Set, Go! Put 10 minutes on a timer and have each team discuss their selected topics. After ten minutes, ring the bell, tell participants that time is up, and ask individuals to exchange business cards. Then, have the individuals in the inner circle stand up and rotate two-people clockwise, and repeat the process. Continue to repeat this process to enable individuals to have conversations with as many people as possible in the allotted amount of time.

Step 4

When time is up, ask participants to orient the chairs to the front of the room and facilitate a group reflection on the activity:

  • Was the speed mentoring activity useful to you as a mentee or mentor?
  • What did you learn about yourself or a potential mentor?
  • What are some of the benefits? What are some of the risks?
  • Did it help you find a good potential match for an ongoing relationship?
  • How might an ongoing mentor/mentee relationship encourage a culture of constant learning?

Finally give everyone a few minutes of quiet reflection time to think about who they might want to approach to further explore a mentorship.