As we mentioned in a previous post, reverse mentoring is when younger employees are paired with more senior or even executive team members in order to mentor them on “various topics of strategic and cultural relevance” (HBR).
Basically, it’s a mentoring relationship in which the more senior or experienced mentoring partner—someone who would traditionally be seen as the mentor—receives advice and wisdom from a younger or more junior mentoring partner.
The Perks of Reverse Mentoring
This practice can be beneficial, given the rapid pace at which our technological and social fabric is shifting—and how younger people tend to be more in touch with these types of changes.
What’s more, it can be a great way to retain millennial talent. As the biggest generation currently in the workforce, and one that likes to switch jobs more frequently than previous generations (60% are open to a new job opportunity right now, and on average they’ll have four different jobs before age 32 and as many as 20 in their lifetime, according to Gallup), millennial retention is a hot topic.
How does reverse mentoring help? When realising that millennials were uninterested in working in financial services and those who did join the company left at higher rates than their older peers, CEO of Advisor Solutions Mark Tibergien told BNY-Mellon|Pershing, they should implement a reverse-mentoring program.
By so doing, HBR found that millennials were provided with the transparency and recognition they were seeking from management, resulting in a 96% retention rate for the first cohort of BNY-Mellon|Pershing’s millennial mentors.
Skills, Culture, and Diversity
But reverse mentoring isn’t only useful for retention purposes, it can also help older team members learn and master new technical or digital skills (harness social media for professional purposes), improve company culture (understand why people aren’t applying or are leaving and make cultural shifts to improve those areas or misconceptions) and promote diversity (improve leadership’s understanding of minority issues via person-to-person connections).
How to Make It Work for Your Organisation
When implementing a reverse-mentoring program, you can do so in a variety of ways.
- Reverse-First Mentoring Match: Pair up mentoring partners in which the primary objective is for the younger or more junior of the two acts as the mentor.
- 50/50 Traditional/Reverse Mentoring Match: This relationship acts purposefully as a “two-way street”, encouraging both parties to teach, learn, and grow as individuals while developing a stronger, more egalitarian relationship.
The irony here, of course, is that most mentoring relationships have an element of reverse mentoring to them. When a mentor shares their experience, they are naturally forced to hold up a mirror to their own leadership style or behaviours which often uncovers new discoveries.
A Personal Advisory Board: The Personal Advisory Board isn’t one mentoring relationship, but many, resulting in one’s own personal board of advisors. One may act as a more traditional mentor, another as more of a mentee, and even another at the same professional level as you.
Ultimately, 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, offering different and diverse experiences that are equally valuable.
Ready to get your mentoring program started? Learn more about the five key decisions you need to make in order to successfully match, build momentum and measure a program.