The power of reverse mentoring
Do you believe that the longer you work for an organization, the more you know and the less you need to learn?
Young starters bring new skills and expertise. They provide fresh perspectives that benefit you and other more established colleagues. Reverse mentoring plays a crucial role in exchanging this knowledge.
What is reverse mentoring
According to Techopedia, reverse mentoring is an “initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media, and current trends. Reverse mentoring is seen as a way to bring older employees up to speed in areas that are often second nature to 20-something employees”. At Ormit talent, we believe reverse mentoring is more than learning the latest memes or tricks on Tik Tok. If you accept that “talent has no age” and believe that trends can have a big and lasting impact on business and the economy, you and your organization can benefit immensely from reverse mentoring.
Benefits of reverse mentoring
A reverse mentoring program can increase the retention of younger employees. It provides them with the transparency and recognition that they’re seeking from management. They can practice knowledge-sharing as the subject matter expert (which, early in their career, they rarely ever experience). It also boosts their confidence to speak up to those with more traditional experiences than themselves. Providing a place where young starters feel heard, judgment-free increases their engagement and commitment towards your organization.
While digital skill development should not be the focus of a reverse mentoring program, many of the companies see it as a meaningful part of the relationship. It allows learning something from someone as opposed to just learning about something. This is like the difference between immersing yourself in a new language around a native speaker versus learning on your own out of a textbook.
Reverse mentoring can also be a huge driver for culture change. It allows you to identify a lot of useful information within your organization: areas you’re missing (and blind spots), processes that aren’t working, work that is exciting or not exciting, … The expertise you’ve built up over time is important but, if left to little or no innovation or renovation, can be limiting. A fresh and new perspective from younger team members bulldozes years of stale habits.
Best practices reverse mentoring
Convinced reverse mentoring is what your organization needs? We have some tips and tricks for you!
- The right match is crucial. An effective mentoring relationship needs good chemistry between both participants, so don’t choose someone “just because they’re young.” Instead, your ideal partner should have the skills or knowledge that you need and be willing to build a relationship with you. Ormit talent has carefully selected their young talents for you and your organization, so you’re covered!
- Address mentees’ fear and distrust. Many executives are fearful of revealing their lack of knowledge to junior employees. But if the fears are addressed explicitly, open sharing can be incredibly rewarding. You know you are exposing yourself, you are exposing your vulnerabilities and that helps strengthen the bond between you and your mentor.
- Ensure strong commitment from the mentees. The number one reason that reverse mentoring programs fail is that the executives don’t prioritize the relationship. After a couple of canceled sessions, the momentum quickly dwindles.
Reverse mentoring ideas
Reverse mentoring can come in many formats.
- Host small group discussions around a topic or trend. During Ormit Talent traineeships, we organize “Perspective Challengers” where young trainees invite senior management to discuss and exchange perspectives.
- Assign specific emerging technologies or trends to a set of younger team members to research and report back on to your organization in a lunch-and-learn format.
- Pair more experienced mentees with younger mentors and encourage a monthly one-on-one framework for mentoring.
Try a couple of these formats out, find what works best for you, and go for it.