“Maybe at this stage in my career, it’s from the younger generation that I have the most to learn.” - Diana Riggs
Mentoring is traditionally about finding ways to nurture less experienced people. Older, wiser and more experienced individuals take younger people under the wing to show them the ropes. Mentoring is an integral part of human relations and has naturally been around since the beginning of mankind.
With that being said, the younger generation can also bring value to their older peers. In the business world, this is called reverse mentoring.
A reverse mentoring program opens the door for more mature members of an organization to learn from the younger generation. Millennials grew up using technology and social media. This is often the focus of a reverse mentoring program and exposes Baby Boomers to the vast array of technology available today that they might not be versed in.
The interaction of the younger employees with older ones produces social benefits, builds company culture, engagement all while transferring skills across the organization.
Organizations, non-profits, government agencies and companies can’t just match a bunch of younger people up with older members and hope for smooth interaction and skill transfers. A successful mentoring program needs to be carefully structured, supervised and maintained.
Here are three steps to pulling off a successful reverse mentoring program:
One - Establish a sharing environment
Recognize that in reverse mentoring, senior group members are being asked to learn from people much younger than them. This can be uncomfortable and awkward. Imagine working somewhere for decades and a new employee who has only been with the organization a few months is going to teach you new skills.
The environment of the organization has to be safe for sharing and learning with no judgement. One way to create this, is to make the information shared within a mentoring program confidential. That means, no one except for mentors, their mentees and an Admin can see what is happening in the program or what skills are being worked on. Confidentiality creates a safe space for people to open up and really learn while minimizing social distractions.
Multiple tests and surveys should be employed to create the perfect matches within the organization. Everything from hobbies, personal interests to professional skills should be assessed when matching people to ensure successful relationships.
It is also smart when doing reverse mentoring to require mentors be multiple levels below their assigned mentee and in a different part of the organization entirely. This avoids any conflict of interests and promotes a purely organic growth of the relationship.
Two - Create a two way street
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” - Phil Collins.
Reverse Mentoring is designed to transfer skills from younger group members or employees to more senior members. That doesn’t mean senior managers, leaders or executives can’t share knowledge with younger employees they’re paired with.
The end all goal of the program may be to groove more senior, mature group members into the various uses of social media but any organization who doesn’t take advantage of the exposure to experience younger members will get through this process is missing a serious opportunity. When both parties are learning from each other there is a mutual respect and the organization as a whole becomes much stronger.
Three - Use Metrics
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” - Peter Drucker
Controlling something that you can’t measure is incredibly difficult. We can’t all be mystics using a 6th sense to guide things along.
Your mentoring program should have built-in and established metrics from the start. Participants need to be indoctrinated from the very beginning on giving input through messages and surveys on what’s working and what isn’t. This also opens the minds of your younger members so you can see their opinions, desires and goals.
This information will allow you to change the program on the fly, adapt and evolve it while constantly introducing positive changes to everyone’s benefit.
This where using mentoring software really comes in handy as it allows you to oversee the whole process and gather large amounts of empirical data on how your mentors and mentees are doing.
How can Mentor Resources help bridge the gap?
Mentor Resources has developed the most powerful mentoring software on the market - Wisdom Share.
We integrate software with individual mentoring. Supervising a handful of mentor-mentee relationships with a spreadsheet and weekly emails might be manageable but how do you ever scale? Running a mentoring program tailored to impact hundreds or even thousands of employees requires powerful software and proven programs.
Mentees learn best when information comes from people who have been through similar situations. Having one-on-one social support keeps participants on track to reach their goals and holds them accountable. This entire process can be facilitated and guided using our proven systems.
As organizations fill their ranks with the best talent, mentoring plays a crucial role in on-boarding new members and helping them bring value. Leveraging our software, organizations can close the skills gap by having their people pass on knowledge to mentees, build valuable bonds and create professional development.
Reach out to us today for a free demonstration of our software.