Mentoring is a well-used tool to encourage employee retention, company succession and overall improvement in workplace productivity. Many companies have in place mentoring programs to foster successful growth opportunities between lower level and less experienced employees with more senior mentors. However, in recent times, companies have been adopting the concept of ‘Reverse Mentoring’ whereby again a senior and junior employee are paired together, however in the twist, the senior learns and asks questions from the junior. The approach has largely been adopted to allow executives to delve into the younger generation’s knowledge of technology, a topic which many executives may struggle to fully comprehend or understand the resultant effects off in the company’s strategic future. With major companies like ANZ adopting the trend, the concept appears to be a successful strategy for the encouragement of positive business outcomes in our rapidly changing world.
The major benefit of reverse mentoring is that it allows those in positions of power and strategic decision making, who come with years of industry experience, a different perspective to the modern day trends, problems and outcomes. There is no doubt our world and industries are changing at a rapid pace as technology and social trends constantly advance. Many of those under 30 have no problem understanding the tech involved, whereas often, older generations fall behind. The concept addresses these changes and imparts a new perspective to those who implement decisions for the future of the business. Reverse mentoring forms a unusual and generally unlikely relationship, whereby the junior employee has somewhat the upper hand, being the one with desirable knowledge. However, both parties will win out from concept if done correctly. The executive will gain new knowledge and insight into this changing world. In turn, the junior employee will gain invaluable experienced through tapping into the executives vast knowledge, business insights and industry practice. In addition, while new knowledge and skills for both parties are gained, the concept brings two levels and generations closer together, which ultimately brings a stronger working culture.
Reverse mentoring can have highly beneficial outcomes – however to be done successfully there needs to be defined expectations and a willingness to learn from both parties. Obviously, the reverse mentoring will force the executive be on a level playing field to the junior, so they must be open to the concept to ensure both parties gain from the experience.