Reverse mentoring is an amazing phenomenon in which older employees are mentored by young employees through pairing on topics related to current trends, latest technology developments and new gizmos. In tech industry or even for other businesses that rely heavily on technology and innovation, reverse-mentoring can act as a steering to maneuver the learning curve. Not so hyped concept, this creates a platform for experienced and older employees to move up to speed on technological changes by linking them with newer generation kid whose lives have been more deeply integrated with computers, doohickeys and gadgets.
As a kid, we all empathize with the concept of reverse mentoring which is prevalent since ages. This is something we all have unknowingly done with our parents. As young kids popping up from a different generation, we all have argued on the ever changing technological and generational gaps. The informal discussions at home on why the older generation need to understand the most updated tricks of the trade of next gen is perhaps not taken up as a formalized process at home, but its existence cannot be ruled out since time immemorial.
The same philosophy in the corporate world which has been coined by Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE in ‘90s is well known to many. And unconsciously we follow it often in our workplace too. Let’s look at some such examples.
- Have you ever experienced working with interns on any project? The way they deal with the problem statement and bring technological idea will leave you amused.
- Have you ever thought that the font style of your smartphone can be changed until you bumped into a techie’s mobile device? Young generation is busy in exploring uncommon features in every technology they use.
- The new age collaboration tools are replacing spreadsheets and tasks are tracked in a different way as against the hackneyed methods of earlier times. We learn it through keeping pace with new technologies and who better than this generation kid can make us aware of new stuff.
Working with young generation actually takes you into a different world altogether. Reverse mentoring opens up a new diaspora of learning for all. It is indeed a great way of harnessing a trusted two-way relationship. Both parties grow together, one in terms of technology and other in terms of experience.
Lot of people have started using the term “Effective” mentoring instead of “Reverse” mentoring as the latter may end up in a negative connotation for some. Every transformational leader follows this method inadvertently as one of their leadership tools. This overlooked and not so explored way of reverse mentoring (you may choose to call it effective mentoring), can bring a paradigm shift in the way we operate. A win-win tool for shaping a culture of engaged, empowered and productive environment with high level of trust and autonomy and is a great leveraging platform for every organization’s future.
However, implementing such unique concept as a formalized process is perhaps a daunting task. Here are couple of ways in which you can sail through the implementation phase in a smoother way.
Introduce it as a L&D Tool
Introduce this process as a Learning and Development tool. Upskill and transfer knowledge through Reverse Mentoring by formalizing the process and converting it into Training capsules.
Link it with R&R Policy
Reward and Recognition word rings a bell in everyone’s mind. Irrespective of any generation, this is looked up with enthusiasm and has been established as a great engagement tool too. Highlight and reward the teams who scored well, this will definitely act as a catalyst for the rest.
Create Success Stories
There is no better way than promoting the realization of attainment of an achievement through success stories. The teams that shows exemplary results can be promoted via appreciative inquiries, videos, year books and dashboards. Create such success stories of Reverse Mentoring which will definitely have manifold effect in the mind of every employee.
Every organization have their own set of core values, culture statements and corporate philosophy. By linking Reverse Mentoring as a subset of any of these, the drive down becomes easier. Every manager’s prerogative to instill this philosophy in his team will increase the acceptance level to a great extent.
Gamify the process
Gamification is the buzz word around, by Gamifying the Reverse Mentoring Tool the acceptability will surely increase as you get a definite buy-in from all millennials around. The younger generation will try to lure the older generation as they are better equipped with these gamification process. This will definitely help in setting up the equation between the teams in a more amiable way than anticipated.
Mentor – Mentee Day Celebration
HR Leaders can create a branding exercise by commemorating the best teams of the reverse mentoring process. This can be taken up as a once in six months’ celebration activity which will reinforce the spirit of openness, sharing and teamwork. One can take others through his own journey of the process and share the learnings to all employees with pride thereby creating a chain reaction of acceptability.
There is not even a slightest doubt on numerous benefits the process of reverse mentoring can bring in an organization. The only challenge one needs to address is, the effective implementation of the same. By following the above methods, one can definitely bring about a plethora of mind set changes for the betterment of multigenerational workforce of today. Not only this, a strategy needs to be devised from time to time to keep the reinforcement level high. With an effective process in place and a profound reinforcement strategy, one can definitely look up to a phenomenal change in harnessing a great performance culture in an organization.