Reverse mentoring

updates + insights » Reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring is gaining in popularity as an opportunity for experienced, senior leaders to gain valuable perspective through the lens of a less experienced and in most cases, younger member of the team. Like any mentoring, it’s about sharing insights, having an open mind and being committed to continuous learning.

We all acknowledge that each generation ‘thinks and behaves’ differently, which is mostly influenced by what is happening in society and the wider world at the time. In most cases, it’s a younger generation that is more in touch with the future – as senior leaders, that’s a good place to be.

The benefits of a reverse mentoring programme are many and can be loosely categorised as:

  • Closing generational gaps within your business
  • Contributing to inclusion initiatives
  • Empowering your high potentials and emerging leaders
  • Encouraging new thinking and shared learning for all parties

If you are considering the creation of a reverse mentoring programme in your business, there are a couple of points to consider.

Does your culture support it?

Reverse mentoring is not without its challenges, some of these barriers may be related to the shift in hierarchy with the ‘young’ teaching the ‘old’. You need a certain type of organisational culture founded on trust and honesty, to make that dynamic work.

What challenges are you trying to solve?

In order to sell it to the business you need to understand what problem you’re trying to solve with a reverse mentoring programme. Is this an inclusion initiative, are you looking to bridge generational gaps in your business of is it about fostering innovation?   

Be clear about roles

As with any mentoring relationship there needs to be clarity and agreement on roles and responsibilities. There is plenty of space for flexibility in whether it’s a formal, structured programme or a causal relationship/connection – but make sure this is agreed from the outset. 

You’ll need a champion

New initiatives are more likely to succeed if someone is driving it and this usually needs to be led from the top. Having someone of influence actively promoting (or participating in) a reverse mentoring programme, will give it the necessary attention within your business.

Chances are you already have some form of mentoring happening in your organisation so its relatively simple to expand the offering to include a reverse mentoring programme. Yes, the dynamics can be tricky to begin with and that starts with being willing to accept that there are things we can learn from a younger generation. The big ‘win’ however, is that your business will be better equipped for the future.  

If you are looking for support to create a reverse mentoring programme in your organisation, get in touch with us.

The Decipher Team      

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