About half a lifetime ago, I was the VP of Marketing for a consumer magazine publisher.
It was a specialized job in a specialized field, and I realized I had no real “peer” at work with whom I could discuss various issues and problems that kept popping up.
On a whim, I called someone I didn’t know but who had my title at another company that wasn’t a competitor.
I suggested that we establish a “peer consultation” group of two!
She liked the idea, and we began discussing (on a more or less regular basis) various issues that we both faced.
Since that time, I have had similar arrangements with other professionals, and I STRONGLY recommend you do the same.
Here are the benefits:
- Because the two of you don’t work for the same company, you can get an “outsider’s” opinion from someone who is knowledgeable about the work you do.
- You avoid inappropriately sharing problems or issues with people with whom you work, but who may also be impacted by your decisions, or feel burdened by listening to the problems/issues.
- If you decide to talk regularly, such as once a month, it can help you organize your thinking and problem-solving around that meeting. It’s efficient.
Some tips for creating an effective peer mentoring relationship:
- Make sure that talking to a third party doesn’t violate any confidentiality agreements you have with your company.
- Confirm the confidential nature of your peer mentoring discussions.
- Be absolutely clear about how you intend to use the peer mentoring discussions.
- Talk or meet regularly. Once a month is recommended.
- Agree to assess the value of the relationship on a regular basis.
Sometimes these informal relationships expand to include others, and can very usefully be converted into MasterMind groups that involve a few people at the same leadership level.
If you have experiences you want to share with peer mentoring or MasterMind groups, post them as comments. If you want to discuss them confidentially, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org