There is a recurring assumption that the higher up you are in a company, the less need you have for mentorship. The more you know the less you have to learn right? Companies have traditionally applied a top-down approach to mentoring, which focuses on senior leaders mentoring young and new employees. Reverse mentoring, on the other hand, flips this approach on its head.
Young employees hold skills and perspectives that can provide new understandings and approaches that established colleagues may have had limited exposure to. Senior colleagues can provide younger staff with their reflections and experiences based on hindsight, and both colleagues will be able to share their wisdom and insights into the industry with a different perspective.
What is reverse mentoring?
Reverse mentoring allows for junior colleagues to enter into a mentoring relationship with more senior and established colleagues. The benefit of a reverse mentoring partnership is the exchange of skills and the valuing of intergenerational perspectives on a social, educational, and cultural basis. Ultimately this provides more opportunities for diversity and inclusion for all employees, by allowing them to share their skills and experiences with others.
Reverse mentoring allows individuals and companies to recognise that there are areas for improvement for both individuals in the mentoring relationship and as a result each is given the same level of respect.
What are the benefits of reverse mentoring?
Promotion of diversity and inclusion – Reverse mentorship has the ability to bridge the generational gap that exists between young professionals and senior executives, encouraging the exchange of fresh perspectives and ideas.
Increased employee retention – Research shows that employees who engage in a mentorship have a retention rate 13% higher than those who don’t. Reverse mentoring brings young professionals and established leaders together and allows for greater transparency between colleagues.
Promoting a change in workplace culture – Reverse mentorships create an environment of open communication and collaboration between both young professionals and their senior peers. This provides a comfortable environment to work together and to help establish a balanced workplace culture.
Here are our top four tips on how to establish a successful reverse mentoring program:
- Establish expectations – both participants should communicate what their goals and expected outcomes are.
- Discuss the code of behaviour – both mentors and mentees should work together to create their meeting schedule and establish a code of conduct for their mentorship.
- Be willing to learn – each individual must be open to exploring new perspectives and skills, and be willing to learn from the other person.
- Create trust and transparency – as both individuals are learning from and sharing with each other, both parties must communicate openly in order to create trust and transparency within the relationship.
For more on how to make the most of your mentoring relationships, have a read of our article on What Makes A Successful Mentorship.