Reverse mentoring refers to an opportunity in which senior members of an organization are paired up with younger associates in an attempt to exchange knowledge similar to a mentoring session but with the purpose of education the senior leaders in topics that younger employees handle with expertise. The use of reverse mentoring is something that is becoming very popular lately simply because mentoring, in general, is being utilized a lot more by companies, therefore it is only natural than when a proper mentorship is put in place, the exchange exists as a two-way street. Another reason why reverse mentoring is so popular has to do with the new era of technology in which we live today. New advances have made so that while our world is hyper-connected and doing business has become easier and more convenient than ever before, we also have to deal with a steep learning curve that sometimes is beyond people who are not used to this new technology and who did not grow up in an environment in which using computers and the internet is a commonality.
In today’s article here at Suzzanne Uhland’s Blog, we want to talk about what you need to have in mind in order to take advantage of reverse mentoring and how a program should be put together so that reverse mentoring can have the strongest possible impact in the organization and the individuals involved with mentorships.
In order to get started, you have to make exhaustive research as to what is the purpose of the program and ensure you are solving a need you have, not just doing it for the sake of doing it. It is easy to fall on a situation in which the reverse mentoring is being done just so junior employees feel like they are adding something to the mentoring relationship but just for the sake of feeling like they are being constructive. That would be the wrong way of going about reverse mentoring as the benefits must be tangible and must truly be beneficial for the company because they are attending a need, not just a desire for indulgence.
Social media and understanding the ins and outs of these phenomena is a great example of a need that most companies have when it comes to training their most senior members. It is not a secret that senior leaders are not too familiar with the benefits of social media being used as a marketing tool and as a way of gathering useful information from customers. It is helpful to aid them in moving away from thinking that social media is something for younger people to waste their time and see it for the amazing asset that it can become when being used properly.
The first meeting is the perfect moment to set goals and to start coming up with a strategy on how to accomplish those goals. Reverse mentoring should be a lot more informal and structure should be best kept at a minimum. At the beginning, the sessions should be spaced a couple of weeks in between to establish rapport and then to identify some of the needs of the particular pairing. Remember that using technology to communicate like social media, texting and other personal devices is a great way to change the whole setting of the mentoring sessions and at the same time immerse the participants on the type of environment they need to learn to utilize.
Reverse mentoring is something that can grow in a very organic way and most of the time the best relationships end up forming on their own. However, this doesn’t mean that the company shouldn’t worry about strategies to help nurture the partnership and help them find the best environment in which to further advance. It is important to give the program the importance that it deserves and to encourage those in it to actively participate and those who are not members yet, to join.
Help members find compatible partners that are not just versed in the areas that are key to the success of the program, but also who have personalities that can further stimulate good dialogue and help those involved open up to their peer so they can grow together. It is important to identify those junior members of the organization that have potential to become tomorrow’s leaders. These individuals would be already cultivating a strong relationship with the people they will call colleagues later on and also with those whom they will work with side to side making the company more competitive, the workplace safer and the organization thrives.
Last but not least, always be open to feedback and criticism. These types of programs are not common and they are in a very experimental phase in most companies, so understand the importance of learning from mistakes and adjusting the course of the mission as you go along.
* Featured Image courtesy of Gratisography at Pexels.com