Career Success

Why You Need to Take a Play from King Arthur and Build Your Own Round Table

By Mike BergelsonFebruary 25, 2014

Employees who receive mentoring end up with greater career satisfaction, higher compensation, and more promotions.  A lot more.Research shows that mentored employees are five times as likely to receive promotions as unmentored ones. Some enterprises offer formal mentoring – but why stop with one mentor? 

Your Own Personal Advisory Board

In the same way startups often have advisory boards to provide expert advice in specialized areas, many successful individuals create personal advisory boards to help steer them through their career. These boards provide the experience and perspective to help employees and executives make smarter career decisions.

Multiple opinions on things like…

  • How to prepare yourself for a promotion
  • Which specialty area to focus on
  • How to manage problemmatic workers

…can help you figure out which of many paths to go down.

This stands to reason – one of the key factors to good decision-making at all levels is incorporating feedback from diverse perspectives. Noted management guru Ram Charan identifies diversity as a key requirement of qualitative judgment, a necessary ingredient in making better decisions.  By assembling a personal advisory board, you’ll multiply many of the benefits of one-to-one mentoring.

Here are some key advantages:

1. A Diversity of Opinions

Corporate boards of directors have made efforts to diversify in recent years, and research shows that companies with more diverse boards perform better than those with homogenous perspectives.

What works for companies also works for individuals. You can get some truly varied advice by appointing a diverse range of individuals to your personal advisory board. Reach out to people in different organizations or different industries, of different ages and genders, and from varied backgrounds. Sometimes it may be hard to reconcile all those different opinions, but the end result will usually be a better, more rounded view of the subject at hand.

2. A Larger, Higher Quality, Professional Network

When academics Kathy Kram and Monica Higgins originally brought personal advisory boards to wider attention in 2001, they called them “developmental networks.”

The use of the word “network” reinforces the point that these are more than just people you can go to for advice; they are people who can help you develop your career in many different ways. By including people from external organizations and even completely new industries, you can broaden your perspective and expand your professional network into new areas.

Because each of your personal advisory board members will invest time in you, and get to know you well, over time they will connect you deeper into their own networks. This could lead to new leads, opportunities, and resources.

3. Change is a Good Thing

If you have a single mentor, you have all your eggs in one basket. What if that person decides on a career change, falls ill, retires, or simply no longer has time to mentor you?

With a personal advisory board, you can manage change more easily. If one person drops out or is temporarily unavailable, you can rely on the other board members in the meantime, and add new members to the board as necessary.

Furthermore, your own personal needs will evolve over time. By consulting with a group of mentors instead of just one, you can continuously reassess, edit, and add to your pool of advisors depending on your current objectives. Plus, if you’ve been working with the same group for a long time, fresh perspective from a new advisor can be invaluable.

Next Steps

If you’re interested in creating your own personal advisory board, stay tuned. We’ll have plenty of advice on building a personal advisory board and ensuring the right composition of a board in future posts.

Or if you don’t want to wait, feel free to contact us directly. Personal advisory boards are a key part of what we do here at Everwise. We help people build well-balanced personal advisory boards by selecting from our large pool of potential mentors. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks to mentorship and advisory board expert Susan Hammond (@SusanCHammond) for her contributions to this article.

Mike Bergelson

Mike Bergelson

CEO at Everwise

About the Author

Mike Bergelson is the CEO and a co-founder of Everwise, a talent development startup that connects employees to the people, development resources and experiences they need to thrive at every stage of their career.

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