Mentoring typically involves a seasoned professional showing bright-eyed workers the ropes. However, new hires may also provide senior executives with critical insight for business longevity.
Called reverse mentoring, this concept involves younger workers providing their take on the world to their new managers. Because these digital natives grew up with modern tools at their disposal, an understanding of how to nurture culture and know what to expect from their fellow young workers, businesses can gain firsthand knowledge in how to engage professionals in the future.
“You’re sharing experiences, offering guidance and giving advice,” said Jennifer Jordan, professor of leadership and organisational culture at the Institute for Management Development, Switzerland.
But perhaps the most important aspect of reverse mentoring is keeping an open mind. Whether it’s identifying a more efficient use of technology or helping leaders better grasp new cultural norms, these concepts must be taught to older generations.
“One key thing for employers is intergenerational awareness, as we may view things differently because of the societies we grew up in. Starting these conversations allows us to break down some of these barriers,” said Jim Berry, director of the MBA program at University College London.
By opening a line of honest communication, lower-level workers are more inclined to stay on at a company thanks to the active-listening nature of reverse mentoring. It shows young workers that their perspective is important for business sustainability, while providing them purpose in the work they are doing.