Harnessing the fresh perspective of tomorrow’s business leaders is key to reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is where a younger individual mentors an older one, in areas such as emerging technology and social media trends. This offers valuable business insight.
Reverse mentoring was pioneered just over a decade ago by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and has been embraced by a growing number of companies, including Ernst & Young, General Motors, Citibank, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Cisco and Procter & Gamble. All now offer formal reverse mentoring programs. It has also taken off in smaller companies who see it as an opportunity to give their business a competitive edge.
Citibank for example ran a reverse mentoring programme that worked on specific projects that took a fresh look at mobile payments, communicating with millennial generation customers, social media, the digital retail business and creating compelling job pitches for young talent.
Junior mentors can provide first-hand knowledge of a younger customer base – critical for companies aiming to tap into the youth market. can provide insight into how to best use social media such as Linked-in, Facebook and Twitter and signpost apps that will help with organisation and productivity. They can also help managers understand how to motivate and retain young workers. And they know how to digitally connect with influencers who can send business their way.
Reverse mentoring can re-energise by providing an input of energy and ideas from a motivated younger person.
From the junior mentor’s point of view it is a fantastic opportunity to network at high levels, and to develop confidence and experience in relating to a senior manager and being empowered to express their ideas.
However, it’s important for mentoring partners to be ready for change and be willing to take the time to learn.