How Reverse Mentorship Can Help Your Career and Your Company

Apr 18, 2012

Who says the boss knows it all?

In many workplaces, companies have established peer-to-peer or reverse mentoring, which pairs (often but not always) younger staff with colleagues who may not be as adept with technology and other skills. Second Act lists suggestions for how to use and structure reverse or reciprocal mentoring to enhance company capabilities.

Set Expectations – Define early on what both parties should get out of reverse mentoring. It may begin with a simple transfer of knowledge, but other benefits can be found, such as in bridging hierarchical gaps, which can help company teams work more effectively together.

Welcome Suggestions and Criticism – Mentees should be open to criticism and lessons on how to improve. For example, Mark Miller, an executive at the Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain and co-author of The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do, says one of his goals is to learn what he's doing wrong, and right, on social networks like Facebook. Throug mentoring, he says he can learn in days what would take him decades independently.

Give and Take – In a reverse mentorship, both parties should find value. The experienced company leader can take the opportunity help the more junior colleague advance his or her career, clarify work goals, and meet important people in the company and industry.

Try Different Approaches – Reverse mentorships can be set up in a single business department, but there may also be value in mentorships that pair employees from different departments. Junior staff can learn how their skills can be applied in other positions or efforts.

Look out for Stereotypes – Youth does not necessarily mean technical expertise. Just because many younger staff hold a deep knowledge of digital tools does not mean all young employees boast these skills.

Read more about how reverse mentoring can help advance business capabilities.

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