In a recent interview, when asked, “What are five things that people can do to thrive in tough times?” one of the five things Linda Hollander, The Wealthy Bag Lady suggested was to have an advisory team. A group of people you can always call on to ask for help. Your advisory group should consist of individuals who will assist you in holding fast to your vision. They are your mentors, so surround yourself with people who you can learn things from.

An important aspect of professional success involves having mentoring relationships. Research conducted for Sun Microsystems by research company Gartner and Capital Analytics, a software company, looked at 1,000 Sun employees over a five-year period to examine the financial impact of mentoring and found that[1]:

  • 25 percent of employees in a test group who took part in the company's mentoring program had a salary-grade change, compared with 5 percent of employees in a control group who did not participate in the program
  • 28 percent of mentors in the test group had a salary grade change as opposed to just 5 percent in the control group
  • Mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the program
  • Mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program
  • Retention rates were much higher for mentees (72 percent) and mentors (69 percent) than for employees who did not participate in the mentoring program (49 percent)

7 Must Have Characteristics of Mentors

  1. Allow mentees to be the best they can be instead of mirror images of themselves
  2. Act as champions yet ask the difficult questions
  3. Assist mentees to awaken/unleash their inner genius
  4. Possess a sphere of influence and open doors for mentees
  5. Understand the concept of give-and-take
  6. Make time for mentees and share both personal and professional experiences
  7. Respect their mentees

Traditional mentoring relationships are great, but there are other types of mentoring that may be more appropriate for certain situations: formal, informal, mentoring circles, co-mentors and so on. In this instance, a co-mentoring relationship, which is reciprocal and mutual, would work well, where members of your advisory group assume the role of co-mentors. For the relationship to work there has to be chemistry among co-mentors and their values, vision and goals have to align.

Characteristics of Highly Successful Co-Mentoring Relationships

  • Established ground rules
  • Clear purpose and well-defined expectations
  • Non-competitive relationship among members
  • Safe and secure environment
  • Absolute confidentiality
  • Group has structure and focus
  • Members pool knowledge and resources
  • Encourage each other to achieve personal and professional goals
  • Co-mentors support and encourage each other to overcome obstacles
  • Personal chemistry within circles among members is important
  • Respect for diverse backgrounds and needs of co-mentors
  • Values among co-mentors are aligned
  • Members are people whom you trust
  • Co-mentor has to be someone with whom you can speak freely to
  • Form a relationship with someone who is at the same career stage
  • Improve upon each other’s unique skills
  • Members recognize both academic and non-academic achievements/professional and non-professional achievements of each other
  • Commit to meet between one to two hours every two weeks
  • Evaluate regularly to determine if the needs of all co-mentors are being addressed by the group

If you have been going it alone and not achieving the results that you would like, start an advisory group of co-mentors where members support and advise each other. If time is spent to choose the right co-mentors, in no time you will be reaping the fruits of success.

[1] Human Resource Executive Online, “Workplace Loyalties Change, but the Value of Mentoring Doesn't.” The Wharton School,

Author's Bio: 

Avil Beckford, Chief Invisible Mentor, writer and researcher with over 15 years of experience is the published author of Tales of People Who Get It and its companion workbook Journey to Getting It. Subscribe to the Invisible Mentor Blog for great information to ignite your hidden genius, and explore the Resources page for free whitepapers and an e-book.