How To Use Peer-Mentoring To Achieve Your Goals


If you want to increase your productivity, enhance your earning power, achieve your goals, and reach more overall success in your life (whether measured in money, expertise, or relationships) read on.

Peer-Mentoring™ is a system in which two people agree to support each other based on complementary skills and needs, and the partners create a “contract”. The purpose of this process is to create a productively paired “buddy” system, to help both of you achieve your individual goals.

There have been numerous books and articles about mentoring –finding someone senior to you in your field who will help, advise, consult, and coach you to realize your potential. Having a mentor (if you can find one) can definitely be an asset to you and your career.

Lately, we hear a lot about the power of “networking” – “live” networking – going to events, collecting business cards, following up on those contacts. And, of course, we have cyber networking – Facebook, Twitter and the most business-related one, LinkedIn. The end goal­­­ is finding the contacts who will be helpful to you or your business.

A Swift KickPeer-Mentoring is a combination or confluence of these two trends – networking and mentoring, whatever business or career you’re engaged in.

I first discovered the idea of Peer-Mentoring when I began using it for myself. I met another woman consultant who had many of the skills, experiences, and contacts that I lacked. I had some of the resources and talents she needed. We formed a contract with each other, in which we made very clear statements of our separate goals, and then we made clear written commitments to support each other in achieving those goals.

Some of this support came from teaching each other the skills the other needed, sharing our contacts, educating each other in areas where we needed more information, and, most importantly, just knowing that I had a “buddy” rooting for me. We called it a “loving kick in the “can’ts”.

Our mutual support system was so effective that we found that we had each achieved our one-year goals, after only a few months. During this period, we met once a week, reviewed our short-term and long-term goals, discussed how effectively we were spending our time, and took turns instructing each other on subjects in which one of us wanted more knowledge .

We were so amazed by our success that we decided to teach this process to others. Now, thousands of people all over the country have learned the process and are actively forming Peer-Mentor pairs to help each other to be more successful.

Peer-Mentoring™ is a process through which people identify their own resources and those of others, and then create specific strategies for mutual goal achievement. It is a new adaptation of the age-old concept of “reciprocity” practiced by all cultures.

Usual reciprocal practices are implicit, whereas the Peer-Mentor contract makes the agreements explicit. The participants barter resources (skills, contacts, technical expertise, advice, counseling, criticism, etc) with each other as needed.

That idea alone sets it apart from the plethora of “How To Succeed” theories. This model encourages the development and organization of one’s readily available resources – personal, business, and social – and is based on mutual support. It is different from the “I can do it myself through gritted teeth” attitude, which I believe most people find extremely difficult in practice. The Peer-Mentoring technique challenges the myth that isolation is a necessary companion of success.

Peer Mentoring is based on a complementary relationship, which offers maximum benefit for both its participants. The value in these exchanges is that they are not necessarily about friendship, or having a good time together, or being similar. In fact, the agreements often work better when there are differences – complementarities – between the two partners/buddies .

The idea is: you are better at A than your partner, who is better than you at B; you learn more of B, she/he learns more of A and you both end up with greater competencies/strengths and knowledge than you began with. Its success has proven effective in many settings: at the manager, staff, and professional level; in schools, and colleges, and non-profit groups.

The operative word is “peer”, someone at one’s own level, not necessarily a “senior” or “superior” in rank or position.

The Peer-Mentor relationship is not wishful thinking. It is structured around a written contract between two people which specifies, in detail, what goals each person has, what strategies she/he will use to achieve them, the targets, timeframes, and measures/ metrics/indicators by which she/he will know when the goals have been reached.

The role of the Peer-Mentor is to keep the other on target, to help push through the fears, internal blocks, and procrastination – to believe in the other even when she/he does not believe in herself/loses self-confidence.

Each participant/partner must agree to both receive and provide the support, counsel, sponsorship, and advice that is designed into the contract. Each agrees to an exchange in what both parties consider to be a “fair” trade. The partners must be explicit, describing clearly what they expect of each other, and how they know when they are living up to their end of the partnership.

The feedback they give each other will focus on being objective, positive, and specific. When critiquing the behavior or activities that seem counterproductive or “off target”, each must deliver the criticism as constructively and specifically as possible, focused on the behavior and not the person. Suggestions for improvement are requested, not given without solicitation.

Each partner’s goals and objectives are spelled out clearly and explicitly, so each knows what the other means.Then, each partner designs strategies or activities to achieve those goals, with specific indicators to measure success: “how will I know when I’m there?”The goals are the “what” – the strategies are the “how”.

Your Peer-Mentor’s role could take a number of forms. For example, she/he may be more politically savvy than you and might help you figure out which projects would get you the most visibility in your organization. She may help you understand how to influence your supervisor or others, who have some say over your career and salary review.

Similarly, your Peer-Mentor could help you rehearse the talk you will have when you sit down with your boss. If you’re in business or professional practice for yourself, your peer/mentor could help you with your sales technique, financial planning, or advertising strategies.

The Peer-Mentor model is based on the idea that the partners have an investment in and commitment to each another. That there will undoubtedly be conflict, diversions and distractions is seen as a natural and normal corollary/component of an intimate and committed relationship.

Each peer is, then, both the mentor and the protégé. Complementary skills and needs form the basis of this system of pairing. The pair becomes a relationship for support, guidance, and resource sharing to achieve each individual’s goals.

In subsequent Articles, I’ll share ideas and techniques ensure positive results of the “partnership”. I’ll show you ways to measure success as the Peer Mentor relationship develops, how to select the best person for the contract, how to set realistic goals, how to create an actual Peer-Mentor Contract and how best to communicate with your partner.

Editor’s Note: Elaina’s New Book (#1 Best Seller in Business Mentoring & Coaching – Kindle Edition) can be found here:

A Swift Kick in the Can’ts: The New Peer Mentor Model for Success Now


Elaina Zuker
Elaina Zuker
ELAINA is the president of Elaina Zuker Associates in Montréal, Canada. She has taught seminars to hundreds of employees and managers at major corporations such as AT&T, IBM, American Express, and MCI International, and is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and industry events. She is the author of six books, on leadership, management, and communication. Her best-selling book, “The Seven Secrets of Influence” (McGraw-Hill), the recent Main Selection for the Business Week Book Club, has been translated into four languages and its new, revised 2021 edition is now available on Amazon in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon Kindle. Her new book about Peer Mentoring YOUX2 has also just been launched on Amazon. Her internationally successful program “Secrets of Influence ™ is now available as an online learning program, either as a completely online self-study program or in a hybrid version. The program, created with the latest educational technology, can also be customized for an organization’s specific requirements. Ms. Zuker holds a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Management/Organizational Development, and is the 2004 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award from New York Polytechnic University. To engage Ms. Zuker as a speaker or consultant, to book a seminar for your company or organization, or to learn how to become a licensed Affiliate for Secrets of Influence, visit or contact us at [email protected]

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