When someone says mentoring we immediately picture the experienced and mature mentor alongside the eager and younger mentee. However, some companies have found that reverse mentoring, or putting the younger member of the pair in charge, has merits including fresh insights, better collaboration and breaking age-based barriers.
Traditional mentoring definitely has its benefits. It is a proven way to strengthen professional development and drive leadership success. For both the mentor an mentee, they gain a valuable contact within their professional network because the mentoring relationship, more often than not, continues well beyond the conclusion of the formal program.
Today, more of the younger generation move about from job to job and organisation to organisation. As they seek their next step up, if they see no personal connection between their aspirations and the goals of the organisation, they’ll move on. What that means is possibly valuable insights may be walking out the door, never truly fulfilling their potential within the context of your organisation.
That’s why reverse mentoring could be an effective tool in making your younger workforce feel a closer connection between their career and your organisation’s goals. Beyond retention, here are three additional merits of reverse mentoring:
A different perspective can be invaluable for senior leaders. In a similar way to rotating a puzzle and seeing a different possible solution, so too can reversing mentoring roles provide a fresh look at existing challenges.
Sometimes leaders can get used to arguing up the food chain. With reverse mentoring, they are required to think of things differently, use different tactics in completing tasks and understand how to address a different audience.
A new way of looking at things can prove to be useful when it comes to gaining a sense of cooperation too.
This generation of workers appreciate opportunities to participate beyond their role’s scope. What’s more, this generation of workers is all about gaining the opinions and ideas of their colleagues. So, access to the thoughts of one usually means gaining an idea of what those in that age-group think and feel.
Companies, such as PwC, have used reverse mentoring programs to support diversity and inclusion. This, in turn, promoted an environment where all employees feel their ideas are valued, not just those of the senior-level executives.
The result is a truly inclusive culture, where age isn’t a barrier for ideas to be heard and acknowledged.
It’s true, no matter what stage of your career you’re in, mentoring can support your development. Don’t shy away from reverse mentoring because everyone – no matter your age, experience or expertise, has something valuable to give and has room to improve.