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Keeping up with Reverse Mentoring

By Roland Innes, CEO at DYNA Training.

Reverse mentoring flips the script on traditional mentoring. It’s designed to empower younger workers to share their expertise and ideas with more senior employees.

Traditionally, mentoring involves a more experienced individual providing guidance, motivation and role modeling for a newer, younger individual in the workplace. Given the extraordinary rate of change in the last decade, models of mentorships has changed.

No longer is it just the protégé who has something to learn, and the mentor who can impart this wisdom. Younger entrants to the workplace can make a valuable contribution with the right structures in place, such as reverse mentorship.

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By pairing younger employees with experienced executives with the purpose of mentoring on trending topics of strategic and cultural relevance, both sides of the generational gap stand to learn important lessons from the other in addition to delivering real benefits.

Reverse mentoring for future proofing

The biggest threat to business is the phrase “we’ve always done it this way”. Reworking the traditional mentoring hierarchy is an important tactic that companies can use to ensure that they remain relevant by keeping up with the pace of change.

First utilised in the late 1990s, General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch used reverse mentoring to teach his senior executives about the internet. Modern reverse mentoring goes beyond the sharing of technological skills, with today’s programs exploring how senior executives approach strategic issues, leadership, and the working mindset.

This method has been utilised by global corporations such as Cisco Systems, MasterCard, Estée Lauder and PwC, with some companies even setting rules on confidentiality and allowing pairings only outside reporting lines.

Which companies would benefit?

Today, every business is a digital business. New skills are required that can particularly challenging for older employees, highlighting an increased need for skills development and training.

However, it is not just technology skills that are necessary, as the entire business outlook needs to change to facilitate this new way of living. Customer needs have changed, working conditions have changed, and business survival depends on the ability of the executive leadership to respond to all of these changes. Because of this, every business stands to benefit from reverse mentoring.

The idea driving this growing practice is that matching up workers of different generations, for example, baby boomers with millennials, facilitates the exchange of expertise and ideas. This benefits companies and helps foster an environment of growth and learning.

Benefits of reverse mentorship

Millennials and Generation Z want to work for a company with a conscience, and they’re prepared to look around until they find it. In addition to flexible environments and socially responsible missions, they seek continuous learning and skills development, personal fulfillment, and clear opportunities for career advancement.

Reverse mentorship takes care of the three Rs: Retention, Relevant conversations and Real trends. Through such mentorship programs, these generations can be properly engaged in the workplace with a platform that allows them to make a significant contribution to the organisation. Their contribution to the workplace harnesses their personal experiences, unique skills and insights.

Additional benefits include:

  • Improves connection to company culture: By pairing a junior with a senior leader, it’s possible to gain new insight into the organisation which can reinvigorate executive management and get them excited about work again.
  • Drives technological change: Change is tough, and technological change may be the most challenging of all. Reverse mentoring can be used to shake things up and encourage junior employees to challenge existing strategies and processes by finding better ways to do things.
  • Fosters deeper inclusion: Reverse mentoring allows for the building of working relationships in such a way that people’s differences are valued and accommodated. In the long term, such mentoring relationships will facilitate a critical boost to diversity in upper-level management roles.

Prioriting the relationship

Like any relationship, reverse mentorship requires the participants to be properly paired. There needs to be a willingness on both sides to foster and build that relationship, because the number one reason that reverse-mentoring programs fail is that executives (the mentees) fail to prioritise the relationship. If approached correctly, reverse mentoring can provide the space for all employees to challenge the status quo and reexamine their thinking. Ultimately, reverse mentoring is an effective tool to bridge the generation gap, fuel innovation and business growth.

 

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Reverse mentoring flips the script on traditional mentoring. It’s designed to empower younger workers to share their expertise and ideas with more senior employees.

Traditionally, mentoring involves a more experienced individual providing guidance, motivation and role modeling for a newer, younger individual in the workplace. Given the extraordinary rate of change in the last decade, models of mentorships has changed.

No longer is it just the protégé who has something to learn, and the mentor who can impart this wisdom. Younger entrants to the workplace can make a valuable contribution with the right structures in place, such as reverse mentorship.

- Advertisement -
Franchise Expo

By pairing younger employees with experienced executives with the purpose of mentoring on trending topics of strategic and cultural relevance, both sides of the generational gap stand to learn important lessons from the other in addition to delivering real benefits.

Reverse mentoring for future proofing

The biggest threat to business is the phrase “we’ve always done it this way”. Reworking the traditional mentoring hierarchy is an important tactic that companies can use to ensure that they remain relevant by keeping up with the pace of change.

First utilised in the late 1990s, General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch used reverse mentoring to teach his senior executives about the internet. Modern reverse mentoring goes beyond the sharing of technological skills, with today’s programs exploring how senior executives approach strategic issues, leadership, and the working mindset.

This method has been utilised by global corporations such as Cisco Systems, MasterCard, Estée Lauder and PwC, with some companies even setting rules on confidentiality and allowing pairings only outside reporting lines.

Which companies would benefit?

Today, every business is a digital business. New skills are required that can particularly challenging for older employees, highlighting an increased need for skills development and training.

However, it is not just technology skills that are necessary, as the entire business outlook needs to change to facilitate this new way of living. Customer needs have changed, working conditions have changed, and business survival depends on the ability of the executive leadership to respond to all of these changes. Because of this, every business stands to benefit from reverse mentoring.

The idea driving this growing practice is that matching up workers of different generations, for example, baby boomers with millennials, facilitates the exchange of expertise and ideas. This benefits companies and helps foster an environment of growth and learning.

Benefits of reverse mentorship

Millennials and Generation Z want to work for a company with a conscience, and they’re prepared to look around until they find it. In addition to flexible environments and socially responsible missions, they seek continuous learning and skills development, personal fulfillment, and clear opportunities for career advancement.

Reverse mentorship takes care of the three Rs: Retention, Relevant conversations and Real trends. Through such mentorship programs, these generations can be properly engaged in the workplace with a platform that allows them to make a significant contribution to the organisation. Their contribution to the workplace harnesses their personal experiences, unique skills and insights.

Additional benefits include:

  • Improves connection to company culture: By pairing a junior with a senior leader, it’s possible to gain new insight into the organisation which can reinvigorate executive management and get them excited about work again.
  • Drives technological change: Change is tough, and technological change may be the most challenging of all. Reverse mentoring can be used to shake things up and encourage junior employees to challenge existing strategies and processes by finding better ways to do things.
  • Fosters deeper inclusion: Reverse mentoring allows for the building of working relationships in such a way that people’s differences are valued and accommodated. In the long term, such mentoring relationships will facilitate a critical boost to diversity in upper-level management roles.

Prioriting the relationship

Like any relationship, reverse mentorship requires the participants to be properly paired. There needs to be a willingness on both sides to foster and build that relationship, because the number one reason that reverse-mentoring programs fail is that executives (the mentees) fail to prioritise the relationship. If approached correctly, reverse mentoring can provide the space for all employees to challenge the status quo and reexamine their thinking. Ultimately, reverse mentoring is an effective tool to bridge the generation gap, fuel innovation and business growth.

 

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