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Reverse Mentoring: What is it and Should You Introduce it to Your Workplace

By Garrett Spence   |    March 27, 2017   |    10:42 AM

 

Learn About the Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

In traditional mentoring setups a younger employee learns from an older and more experienced employee. Reverse mentoring turns that idea upside down — older executives and staff members are mentored by younger employees, often Millennials.

It’s an interesting, and potentially valuable, mentoring setup that’s worth exploring. Keep reading to learn about some of the benefits of reverse mentoring in the workplace and how your business can implement its own program.

Top benefits of reverse mentoring

There are a number of benefits to a reverse mentoring setup, and if you pair mentors and mentees strategically it can be very effective for a number of reasons:

1. Younger employees can share their tech knowledge

Millennials and other young workers grew up with social media and other technologies. They know how these tools work, almost instinctively, and are adept at learning new systems as they’re created. Putting them in a mentor position allows them to share these strengths, and reverse mentoring provides another great way to bridge the generation gap.

2. Reverse mentoring prepares young employees for more responsibility

According to some experts, Millennials will make up half of the entire workforce by 2020, meaning they’re the next leaders of the business world. Reverse mentoring allows this emerging workforce to gain valuable leadership experience that they can use in the future.

3. They’ll also learn from more experienced employees

Most mentor-mentee relationships aren’t one-sided, and it’s inevitable that the younger mentor will learn from the person they’re helping. Contrary to popular belief, many Millennials want to work hard and succeed in the workplace and they value opportunities to do so.

4. Continuous learning benefits everyone

When your team members focus on continuing education and broadening their skillsets, everyone wins. Reverse mentoring clearly benefits mentors, mentees, and the company:

“Reverse mentoring is one of several tools for organizations who provide developmental opportunities as a strategy for recruiting and retaining talent. In particular, millennial employees want personalized opportunities to contribute in the workplace and to feel that their ideas are being heard.”

How to establish a reverse mentoring program

The easiest way to start a reverse mentoring program is to pair employees together from within your team. First, determine which skill gaps a senior employee has. Then, pair them with a younger team member with the expertise in those areas.

You can also look to outside help for your program.

Target partners with a reverse mentoring program called Techstars, an organization that pairs large corporations and tech startups. The startup personnel teach Target executives how to grow and get things done quickly using concepts from their startup experience.

You don’t have to partner with an organization geared toward large corporations, but you can use a similar concept. For example, your city may have startup accelerators of it’s own. Approach them to propose a reverse mentoring relationship. Coworking spaces and shared offices could be another source to tap into.

Regardless of how you source reverse mentors, it’s important that each mentor-mentee team takes the commitment seriously. Encourage everyone to set regular meetings with a clear agenda, action items, and the appropriate follow-through. Soon enough, you’ll have a robust and effective reverse mentoring program that benefits your employees and your business.