People often think that the longer you work for an organization, the more you know and the less you need to learn. However, younger members of staff who are just entering the workplace often have new skills and expertise, and they can provide fresh perspectives and ways of working that can benefit their more established colleagues.
Companies are now starting to realize that top-down learning is not always appropriate, particularly where social media and use of technology are involved, and "reverse mentoring" programs are emerging as a result. These give junior team members the opportunity to share up-to-date skills and knowledge with more senior colleagues.
We'll look at reverse mentoring in this article, and we'll discuss how you can use it to build your skills and bridge generational gaps.
What is Reverse Mentoring?
In reverse mentoring, a junior team member enters into a "professional friendship" with someone more senior, and they exchange skills, knowledge and understanding. For example, a younger person might be more comfortable with tools such as Pinterest®, WhatsApp® and Hootsuite®, so encouraging a pairing with an older colleague who has less experience of using these technologies can improve that person's ability to connect with potential clients or customers.
The former CEO of General Electric®, Jack Welch, is credited with inventing the concept of reverse mentoring. He recognized his lack of technology skills in the late 1990s, and believed that the youngest people joining the company were far more knowledgeable about new technologies than their managers. So, he asked 500 of his top executives to seek out mentors from among these new joiners.
Usually, a mentor is expected to be more senior and more experienced than his or her mentee. However, reverse mentoring recognizes that there are skills gaps on both sides, and that each person can address their weaknesses with the help of the other's strengths. For example, a younger team member can pass new skills and ideas up the corporate ladder, and someone older can become a role model or a career coach.
Why Form a Reverse Mentoring Relationship?
Reverse mentoring can play an important role in bridging the gap between the generations currently in the workforce: baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1965 and 1976), and Generation Y Add to My Personal Learning Plan, also called millennials (born between 1977 and 1998). These groups have experienced vastly different social and cultural situations, which has resulted in varied work ethics, mindsets and attitudes.
This has led to a number of prejudices and stereotypes forming that can be difficult to overcome. For instance, some people view millennials as spoiled, unmotivated and self-centered, while some millennials view older generations as inefficient and resistant to change. Executives and other leaders need to learn how to cross the generational divide Add to My Personal Learning Plan and communicate with, motivate and engage younger team members. Reverse mentoring can help to challenge these stereotypes, and benefit your team members and the organization as a whole.https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/reverse-mentoring.htm