Reverse Mentoring 101

Usually, a mentor is expected to be more senior and experienced than their mentee. However, reverse mentoring recognises that there are skill gaps on both sides, and each person can address their challenges with the help of the other’s strengths.

Joining a reverse mentoring program is a great way to progress your career. Why? Well, for starters, you’ll receive help and guidance from other people and/or expand your support and leadership abilities by helping others grow.

Reverse mentoring can serve many functions, but in any form it takes, it creates a space in which each person in the relationship is able to bring their own input and expertise to the table. This offers everyone different and diverse experiences that are all equally valuable.

Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

Before diving into how to be a great mentee (the more senior participant) and mentor (the more junior participant) when it comes to reverse mentoring, let’s first look at some of the benefits.

Connection

For mentees, reverse mentoring helps build networks and connects them to the frontline in order to better understand current issues.

On the other hand, it allows mentors to develop their collaboration skills and build their network within the organisation.

Innovation

Mentees are able to gain new insights and a fresh perspective on their goals, while mentors are able to promote innovation by sharing their ideas.

Inclusion

Mentees will be able to gain an appreciation of the issues affecting under-represented groups, whereas mentors will make a tangible contribution to the creation of a diverse and inclusive environment by sharing their experiences.

Knowledge Sharing

While mentees develop and improve gaps in their skills, mentors can provide a new perspective to senior leaders on how their decisions affect the frontline of the workplace.

How To Be A Great Mentee In Reverse Mentoring

In order to be a great mentee—remember, that’s the more senior participant—when you’re paired up with your reverse mentoring partner, here are some suggestions:

  • Take responsibility for the mentoring relationship: Don’t let maintaining the relationship fall solely on your mentor’s shoulders; do your part!
  • Initiate and attend regular meetings with your mentor: Make sure you’re actively engaged in the partnership—it takes two to tango.
  • Spend some time creating trust: As a mentee, you must be willing to let down some of your barriers. This is especially important in reverse mentoring, since the more junior person (the mentor) may feel uncomfortable mentoring a senior to begin with.
  • Set clear goals for your mentoring relationship: And don’t forget to share them with your mentor!
  • Be receptive and open to feedback: After all, strong communication is the bread and butter of any relationship; don’t be afraid to give and receive feedback.

Implement action plans and share your progress with your mentor: This will ensure both of you are on the same page.

How to Be A Great Mentor In Reverse Mentoring

When it comes to being a great mentor—the more junior participant—in a reverse mentoring relationship, here are some tips:

  • Be available to meet as agreed: When you’ve decided on a meeting schedule, try to stick to it as best you can.
  • Listen to the needs of the mentee: You want to support your mentoring partner as best as possible, so make sure to really listen to what they want to get out of the reverse mentoring program.
  • Fulfil any promises made to the mentee: Keep your word! This will help you both establish a strong foundation of trust.
  • Take the relationship seriously: Remember, this relationship is meant to help you grow both personally and professionally.
  • Develop your own skills as a mentor: We can all always improve; actively invest in becoming a better mentor for yourself and your mentee.
  • Be honest with the mentee about how the relationship is going: Don’t try to sugar coat any difficulties you’re having; be upfront and honest with one another.

Maintain the privacy of the mentoring relationship: The mentee may be sharing vulnerable information with you, and confidentiality is critical to building any strong relationship based on trust.

Ultimately, by clearly setting expectations, outlining what the goal of the mentoring program is, what the focus of the relationships should be, and providing some techniques partners can use to manage their relationships, your reverse mentoring program can not only be an excellent experience for everyone involved but lead to greater team unity overall.

Ready to get started with a remote mentoring program? Learn more about how our mentoring software works here, and how reverse mentoring can work for your organisation here.

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Grace is our Content Marketing Manager at Mentorloop. She's also a keen cook, a dog mom, and lover of all things tropical.

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