The days of traditional, top-down mentoring are coming to an end. As social media trends change overnight, Baby Boomers must tap into the knowledge of tech savvy Millennials to stay current in today’s business world. Are there people in your office who don’t know how to tweet or post a video to YouTube? It may be time to start reverse mentoring.
Traditional mentoring is immensely valuable. However, a strong relationship has input from both parties. There are things the older generation can learn from the younger, but too often there is not an opportunity for this to happen in the workplace. If a formal mentorship is already available, be sure that one of the expressed objectives of the mentorship is that both parties are in the position of learner and teacher. This is what reverse mentoring is all about.
Instead of only the younger individual gaining wisdom, the more tenured individual is able to adapt to new markets and technologies. There’s no need to take a “How to use your iPhone” class when the young person you mentor has been iPhone savvy since they were in junior high school.
The same can be said of social media. Don’t pay for a consultant when you could have a conversation with your mentee about how to use Tumblr more effectively in your business. Reverse mentoring is not only limited to new technologies either. Sometimes a younger perspective is just what is needed to shed light on out-of-date thinking.
The benefits of reverse mentorship are also not restricted to the more senior individual. Imagine what it would do for your confidence if you were one of the youngest people in the office and your supervisor periodically asked for your help learning a new skill. This gesture also communicates trust and respect by saying, “I need you on my team.” A message this simple can go a long way in a working relationship.
There is a lot to gain from a reverse mentorship. For the older employee, there are new technical skills and a younger perspective to gain. For the younger employee, confidence and more ownership of what happens in the office. At the end of the day, both parties will be better workers individually, and they will both work better together.
Have you had a successful reverse-mentor relationship? Tell us in the comments below or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.