The concept of a senior person learning new & latest concepts from a fairly young & junior person is REVERSE MENTORING
While traditional mentoring focuses on passing knowledge from professional to up-and-coming stars, Reverse Mentoring feeds expertise up the corporate world.
Thus under Reverse Mentoring, “a younger or less experienced Executive helps a more senior manager gain insight into areas, such as computers and changing IT technology, changing mindsets & expectations of the younger generation, new business concepts, thinking out of the box etc.” WHY PARTICIPATE IN REVERSE MENTORING
WHAT IT DOES FOR
- Seniors or Mentees
“ The reverse mentoring sessions are extra-ordinarily valuable. They have made us a better leader and more in touch with today’s workplace” says a senior executive from GE. BENEFITS-
• Improves decision making as it brings a lot of associated inputs in terms of feeling of employees, new development around the industry, best practices etc. and create more tightly knit relationship with juniors. So it serves as an element of Decision Support System.
• Reverse mentoring helps senior executives learn new areas as computers, technology, culture and other highly focused technical areas.
• Senior employees learn new skills and competencies that boost their job performance and motivate them to work better.
• It is a part of natural evolution of learning as business in the digital age requires more than a pulse and a briefcase.
- Subordinates or Mentors
“Having a direct line of communication with the senior executive is invaluable” which is the most important feature of this relationship.
• It opens a direct opportunity to gain a great deal of confidence.
• It helps in gaining insights and wisdom that could otherwise take years to obtain.
• It is a tool for opening the channels of communication and knowledge sharing.
• It helps junior employees face critical situations along with the seniors which otherwise would have not faced being young & junior. There is no substitute to experience. The young ones greatly benefit from the treasure of experience of seniors and their calm and poise.
Reverse mentoring is very beneficial for organizations whether it is done formally or informally. It attracts the many possible gains-
• Increased level of expertise and productivity by providing assistance, guidance & informal skill for the mentees.
• Reduced turnover and Increase in Loyalty.
• 1-to-1 relationship acquired helps foster a feeling of caring and support through testing times.
• Development of managerial talent. A young employee can provide skills and knowledge about new technologies which normally would not be provided to the mentee or if provided it would be very expensive and time consuming.
• Increase the mentor’s skill of communication, problem solving and resource management which could be beneficial to the organization in the long run.
• Saves time and money spent on training activities.
• Helps seniors to understand the aspirations and feeling of young ones and culture fitness in the organization. It proves beneficial in many staffing decisions such as hiring, induction, training, placement etc.
• It also facilitates resourcing the energy and enthusiasm of the young ones in the organization and having perfect fusion of their individual goals with those of the organization’s. HOW TO MAKE REVERSE MENTORING PAY
(Principles behind Reverse Mentoring)
Setting up a successful Reverse Mentoring program requires a great deal of effort and planning. Without a solid foundation, it is likely to encounter more than a few bumps and participants are likely to receive plenty of mental bruises. As the relationship involved is a very delicate one. 5 Step Reverse Mentoring program-
1- Developing a structured program: Either, assign mentoring pairs or, let participants find mentors/mentees they feel they will be comfortable with. What’s important is to develop a set of goals, objectives and ground rules.
2- Make the program a priority: Participants must understand the importance of a reverse mentoring program and block time which mentors & mentees would spend with each other so that seniors do not miss those sessions due to their busy schedule.
3- Screen the members: Being young doesn’t automatically make a person an authority on what’s “COOL”. Mentors must have patience and temperament to work with senior executives as the seniors may be reluctant to open up with someone so junior.
4- Provide proper training: Mentor must learn what’s important and how to show patience and the mentee has to check his or her ego at the door, otherwise the whole reverse mentoring program may fall.
5- Solicit feedback and make necessary changes: Reverse mentoring can require CORRECTION. By surveying participants it’s possible to identify strengths and weaknesses and make the adjustment necessary to achieve success. What is Required for Successful Reverse Mentoring?
Both, the mentor and the mentee, must have certain qualities and attributes. Both the parties have their share of responsibilities which when fulfilled can make a reverse mentoring program successful. Following are the must have qualities for a mentor and his partner in a Reverse Mentoring Program:- GOOD MENTORS
• Listen and Understand
• Challenge and Stimulate learning
• Teach by example
• Introduce to new technologies
• Restricted advice
• Act on advice
• Show commitment
• Ask for feedback
• Willing to change
• Act pro-actively
By developing these qualities the success of the reverse mentoring program can be ensured. But it requires a lot of motivation as both the parties must understand the importance of implementing this program.
Junior executives must understand that senior executives are much more wise and experienced and this program should maintain the ego of the senior executives intact.
Most Important Key for Successful Implementation of Reverse Mentoring
• Training the mentor to be patient and restricting his or her advice to relevant topics only.
• Privacy and confidentiality are also important for senior’s who don’t wish to be seen as depending on the TIPS from the employees with less experience.
Limitations of Reverse Mentoring
“The idea of reverse mentoring is good, but should be used Judiciously”
• Senior executives may not like taking advice from executives who are juniors to them.
• It is not present formally, therefore, little Reverse Mentoring is found in organizations.
• Reverse Mentoring programs may wither if they lack clear and adequate goals.
• If not handled properly it can ruin the work atmosphere and discipline in the organization.
20th September 2007 From India, Lucknow