How to Create Your Own Mentoring Team
Being strategic in forming a mentoring team can help you succeed.
Posted September 30, 2020
By now you’ve heard about the research related to mentoring. Those who are mentored outperform, out-earn, get more promotions, and are more satisfied at work. If one mentor can help you achieve success, imagine what a team of mentors can accomplish.
Everything a single mentor can do for you—provide skill, perspective, and access to their network, a mentoring team puts this on steroids. A team of mentors, often called your personal board of directors, becomes your customized support team. You can pick and choose who should be on your mentoring team.
But how do you select who should be on your mentoring team? Below I offer a strategy.
First, consider what your next goal is. Don’t worry about your long-term goal, as that may change. Focus on what is next. Is it to get promoted to director or associate professor?
Think about what your plan is to meet your goal. Do you need to publish more? Give more talks? Find more clients? Close more deals?
You need to have your goal and plan well thought out as your mentoring team is there to help you refine your plan, help you build your skills related to your goal, and introduce you to people who can help you accomplish this.
Consider drawing a bullseye and putting yourself in the center of it.
The first ring, closest to you, should include those who know you at your most unpolished state. This might include those who have seen you first thing in the morning, hungry, tired, or deprived of caffeine. They might include the names of those who are at home with you during the pandemic. Some popular people include parents, their partner, siblings, and children. These are the people who will give you unfiltered advice because they have unconditional love for you.
The next ring includes those who know you in a more professional environment. They know your work ethic, they see how you function when overwhelmed, and how you deal with the stress of deadlines. They know what you are capable of, even if you don’t always recognize it.
The final ring includes the names of leaders in your field. While you may not know them now, with one or two introductions, you can get access to them.
Start filling out the names and walk around with this paper and add or subtract names as you reflect on it. There is also a worksheet available to take you through the steps of developing a mentoring team.
Unlike a board of directors, the mentors don’t meet as a group. The other mentors likely won’t know of the existence of the others unless you share that information. You can decide who you would like to contact for guidance and perspective on a particular project or ambition.
I encourage you to ensure that you have a diverse group of people on your mentoring team. This includes people senior and junior to you as well as your peers. They all have different perspectives and networks. Furthermore, don’t limit yourself to just your industry. Think broadly and include people from such industries as education, law, medicine, science, and the military. While you may be facing a problem in your industry, it may very likely have been solved in another.
As you advance in your career, the makeup of your team can and will change. Being a mentor is not a life sentence: Former mentors can become friends as new mentors come into the fold.