Making Mentoring Stick

(This post is part of our 2014 Resolve to Evolve program.)

Having a mentor can elevate your professional capabilities exponentially.

And—added bonus—mentors are amazing people. When you take the time to develop a strong mentorship relationship, you get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, but you also end up with a lifelong friend and potential future business partner. In short, there’s no downside. How To Start A Mentorship Relationship (

Think about the new age of mentoring. Mentoring is a fundamental element of a great learning organization. It has shifted away from traditional one on one counseling where a senior leader agrees to mentor a junior leader to the emerging leader having several advisors to turn to. It’s becoming rare for people to go through their entire careers with only one mentor. A network of mentors and advisors is becoming the standard in corporations as each person serves a different and distinct purpose. We can think of it as the 360 degree model of mentoring. The network can be as large or small as one desires, and it can include colleagues who span different levels. A recommended network includes 5-6 people. Each mentor may add value in a very specific area. The risk of having a single mentor is two fold: 1) The mentor could be too attached to the status quo and therefore has the potential to hinder an employee’s development and 2) The mentor may have the best intentions to provide support but lacks the time to follow through on the commitment. A great mentor offers career advice, shares their life experiences/stories and is willing to disclose both successes and failures in an attempt to help others learn.  They offer input, but allow the person being mentored to make their own decisions. They create independent thinkers. (



Beyond Traditional Mentoring: Peers and Networks (Harvard Business Review)

Moving away from the traditional model of an experienced manager offering sage advice to a lower ranking employee to a more nontraditional approach has proven to be effective. Establishing mentoring networks that include both peers and higher level employees is one viable model this chapter explores. This model, along with others, including peer-to-peer mentoring, are valuable ways of sharing experiences and providing mutual support.

Guide to Getting the Mentoring You Need (Harvard Business Review)

Find the right person to help supercharge your career. Whether you’re eyeing a specific leadership role, hoping to advance your skills, or simply looking to broaden your professional network, you need to find someone who can help. Wait for a senior manager to come looking for you–and you’ll probably be waiting forever. Instead, you need to find the mentoring that will help you achieve your goals. Managed correctly, mentoring is a powerful and efficient tool for moving up. The “HBR Guide to Getting the Mentoring You Need” will help you get it right. You’ll learn how to: (1) Find new ways to stand out in your organization, (2) Set clear and realistic development goals, (3) Identify and build relationships with influential sponsors, (4) Give back and bring value to mentors and senior advisers, and (5) Evaluate your progress in reaching your professional goals.

Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is PEAK Grantmaking's communications and practices director. You can find her on Twitter @nikkiwpowell.