Introducing a workplace mentoring program is always a good idea. It improves employee satisfaction and retention, enriches new employees and allows you to tap into your company’s current talent and wisdom to educate and develop up-and-coming talent. As such, many companies see mentoring programs as an integral part of their succession planning activities.
But what many don’t realize is that workplace mentoring can be a two-way street. The mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be the older and wiser employee; sometimes it’s the younger generation who takes on the mentoring role. Because while senior executives may be the right people to mentor junior employees about company culture and processes, who better to mentor senior executives about trends and technology than junior employees?
Basically known as reverse mentoring, it can be a difficult sell if not positioned correctly. Senior executives see themselves as just that – the senior – and aren’t always open to hearing that their skills are redundant or out-of-date compared to their youthful counterparts.
The key to making a reverse mentoring program a success is to make sure both the mentor and the mentee benefit from the relationship. So while the younger employee learns from his older counterpart, the senior executive takes away knowledge and understanding as well. This way both parties further their personal development.
Reverse mentoring doesn’t just exist to teach executives about new technology – although it is an obvious place to start. It is also a great way for everyone to take the time to understand generational differences. Every generation views the world differently and understanding and supporting those differences and values goes a long way towards workplace harmony.
The best part about introducing any type of mentoring program is that it’s free. Because unlike similar learning incentives such as training programs or courses, mentoring uses only resources your company already has – its employees.