How to Assemble a Team of Mentors

Last Updated Aug 22, 2007 6:46 PM EDT

How to Assemble a Team of MentorsDecades ago many employees planned to spend their whole career at one company. These days the typical worker is likely to change jobs six or more times. So if in the past the standard advice was to find a mentor, the new advice, featured this week on Forbes.com, is find yourself three. Think of this group as an informal board to whom you can take all your career and professional questions. It has three essential members:
  1. Mentor -- One member of your informal advisory board should be the typical mentor. This person is several steps above you at work.
  2. High- Performing Peer -- This is someone who works at the same company or in the same field who is a superstar at the company. Find someone who works in a different department from you--this person should not be your competition. This is a good person to discuss office culture and etiquette questions with
  3. Colleague At Another Company -- This person works in your field at another company..... This is a valuable member of your team because he or she has a sense of the industry from another company's standpoint. He or she is ideal for discussing salary issues or career trajectory
Hannah Seligson, author of "New Girl on The Job: Advice From the Trenches," agrees that workers should "aim to create a network of mentors" and offers solid advice to anyone interested in wooing them:

Do away with the "Will you be my mentor?" line. As most people will tell you, it's a relationship that develops organically. In addition, the question, "Will you be my mentor?" presents a probably very busy person with a request that sounds vague, time-consuming, and overly formal. It's the workplace equivalent of blurting out, "Will you be my boyfriend?" The better tactic, experts say, is to seek out someone because you admire the way s/he pitches clients, writes computer code, or drafts contracts, and then approach them with a direct request.... Swinging by just to shoot the breeze isn't the savviest way to win over a mentor to be.

For more tips and advice, check out both the Forbes article and Seligson's book.

(Image of team huddle by -just-jen-, CC 2.0)

 


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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.