Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

Do-It-Yourself Mentoring

The keys to self-coaching.

Mentors are primarily memories. "The notion that someone will sit down and advise you on your career is just not doable today," says Dennis Matthies, a lecturer at Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning and a consultant to Microsoft and other technology companies.

"The new business environment — fast-paced, intellectually demanding, constantly changing — makes it hard to sustain the old mentoring model. The future is all about self-coaching." Matthies points to Microsoft as one notably mentor-free zone. "People are expected to learn fast, on their own, by watching each other, and watching who's best."

What are the keys to self-coaching? First, be disciplined about reflecting on pivotal (read: painful) moments at work. "When something bad happens, don't wait for days to think about it. Immediately ask yourself, 'What can I learn from this?'"

Second, commit to getting better at activities on which you spend lots of time. Matthies calls it the "1,000 multiplier." Spending an hour a day on something for four years translates into a thousand hours — which means it's probably something that's important to your success and promotability. "In the new world of business, if we're not getting better we're getting worse."

Coordinates: Dennis Matthies

Add New Comment