Mastering the Art of ‘Peer to Peer’ and sometimes ‘Boss’ mentoring

There is a notion that mentoring is always top down. Fortunately, it is not so. Those opportunities to mentor bottom up or peer to peer are great opportunities to learn and grow professionally. Very often it brings in great benefits to the organization as well. Bottom up mentoring and peer to peer mentoring without offending the mentee is an art, which must be perfected through practice. This is key to success especially in the middle and senior management positions. The good news is, it is easy and enjoyable.

What do we generally discuss with our bosses and peers during our one to one meetings?. Ideas?, Events? or People?. Here is the famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt; “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”. Though this quote is very inspiring and true, it is very difficult to develop and validate relevant ideas for business consistently.

The single source for these new yet time tested ideas is our own quest for knowledge and self improvement. One major source for these are best selling books. Unless they have something useful in them, they would not have crossed the 1 million copies sold mark. It is not just reading them, but internalizing and sharing those ideas with others. I always do a cost benefit analysis before buying books, as I do for everything I buy. These concepts, learned from the books or blogs, if shared with others at the appropriate time can do wonders.

A new senior manager was recruited to a product development company, which had a highly participatory / collaborative work culture. The new recruit was coming from an organization which had a command and control culture. After joining the new team it was slipping into a loose-loose situation, before one of his peers recommended the ‘First break all the rules’ by Markus Buckingham. That transformed him within a very short span of time and he went on to bag the best manager’s award.

Recently, in a casual one to discussion with the CEO of a successful medium sized product company, I asked this question ‘Have you read the book ‘Crossing the Chasm’ which talks about successfully marketing products. And I left it there. I took this liberty because he used to recommend books to me. Some of them, especially ‘The power of the subconscious mind‘, ‘Hooked‘ and ‘Deep Work’ had positive impact on me. I am grateful for that.

After a couple of weeks of our discussion about ‘Crossing the Chasm’ , one day when I met him in his cabin, he was was very enthusiastic in explaining the concepts of ‘Crossing Chasm’ and the relevance of the concepts to his business at the current juncture. He modified his marketing strategy to incorporate some of the concepts and the business is doing well even during the pandemic time. In fact, it is growing during this period.

To summarize;

  • Be enthusiastic about reading both professional and personnel improvement books which are best sellers
  • Pick those relevant stuff, which are applicable to you
  • Experience the benefits conducting personal experiments. Even the learning from failures is an asset.
  • Share your experiences with others. Listen to others.
  • Do not assume that just because you have read a book, others might have already read it. There are still many in this world who have not read the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’.
  • Be choosy about the books and articles you read. The cost of the book is negligible when compared to the time you spend to read it. Ensure there is potential for Return on Investment.
  • Reduce discussions about people and problems. Instead, focus on solutions.
  • Many senior professionals do not get sufficient time to update their knowledge. You are helping them by doing the learning and sharing the concepts with them.
  • Do not over do it. Create applicable knowledge inventories and use them when the right opportunities arrive.