Mentoring By Numbers

January is National Mentoring Month, a time to bring awareness to the power people can have in the lives of one another as we listen, offer encouragement and share our experiences.

In honor of National Mentoring Month, Centric’s Joe Smucny, a Vice President and Cleveland’s Practice Lead, shares his mentoring rules of thumb.

Mentoring and coaching are overused terms and underused practices. Too often we think that the organizations in which we work provide too little mentoring, however we may not be looking in the mirror enough ourselves. As an individual that is accountable for my professional and personal growth, I am the one most responsible for ensuring that mentoring happens and produces the results I need.

Here are a few numerical rules of thumb that I’ve found helpful over the years…

15 – This is the number of mentors or coaches I try to have at any point in time. And as simple as this may sound, each mentor must have a name associated – no ambiguity allowed.

12 – Have at least one person you talk with at least twelve times per year, or once a month, regarding your career. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but it must be focused on a topic. It’s OK if you have more than one frequent coach but don’t expect to talk this often with everyone.

7 – This is the number of years with a mentor before you’ll see remarkable results. Don’t ask me why. I hear it has something to do with the cycle of life and the stars. This is not to say that you won’t see results sooner, however something magical seemed to happen once I surpassed the seven year mark with my mentors. Patience is a virtue.

5 – Make sure you have at least five degrees of diversity in your pool of mentors. It doesn’t matter what type of diversity, but just make sure you aren’t getting coaching only from people just like you.

3 – When you talk with a mentor have three thoughtful, provocative questions prepared. You may not get to discuss all three but you can use them later. This will ensure you are mentally prepared for the discussion and will show that you are serious.

2 – Reassess your mentor pool every two years. Don’t make changes too often or you’ll not realize results, but freshen things up every couple years if necessary. People change and situations change.

1 – Have one person that you only talk with only once a year. This person will know you, but will be distant enough to see subtle developments as well as new blind spots. Do a little extra preparation for this discussion. Make sure you know what’s changed in your coach’s life as well. This will be a unique perspective for both of you.

100 – If you are fortunate enough to live pass one hundred, remember that you are never too old to ask for mentoring. There is always someone that’s been there, done that. Take advantage of knowledge and wisdom that people want to share. Take responsibility for growing your career and your personal life.  And remember to return the favor.