My previous blog post Why you should be a mentor outlines the benefits of mentoring, but have you heard of reverse mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is a term used when a junior member of a company mentors a senior leader.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is widely credited as the first champion of reverse mentoring. He rolled out a program in the late 90s that leveraged younger employee’s knowledge of the Internet to coach GE’s top management.

But what can these youngsters teach us experienced leaders?

Well, quite a bit actually.

Benefits

Bridge the generation gap

A junior mentor can help you communicate with, motivate, engage and retain the brightest and freshest new leaders of tomorrow.

Trends

They have their fingers on the pulse and can help you understand, assess and utilise the latest technology and workplace trends across your company.

Social media

Many C-Suite level leaders are using social media to support a company’s brand reputation, brand trust, effective leadership and communication with investors, staff and customers – see the 2016 BRANDfog survey.

Junior mentors are generally experts in social media and have grown up using it throughout their life. Why not utilise their experience to help you get your message across?

Listening

It shows that senior leaders and the company are listening and responding to ideas and opinions of the younger members of staff.

Learning and development

How do younger staff members want to learn and develop?

Why not ask?

Key to reverse mentoring

It can be quite intimidating for a junior member of staff to mentor a senior leader. The senior leader should help create a trusted and effective relationship with his mentor by:

Creating a safe environment

The senior leader needs to create a safe environment for the junior mentor to be open, honest and share ideas by:

  1. Ensuring confidentiality
  2. Being non judgemental
  3. Having the mind-set of no idea is a bad idea
  4. Challenging to understand, not to disagree
  5. Being open and honest with the junior mentor
  6. Being open for feedback

Use the right communication medium

The senior leader should use the preferred communication medium of the junior mentor to make them more comfortable i.e. instant messaging, etc.

Being present

Even though senior leaders have busy schedules, they should ensure they attend the mentoring sessions on time and that they are present throughout i.e. no emails or other distractions.

It shows a commitment to the relationship and the process.

Wrap up

It looks like there is a lot senior leaders can learn from junior mentors.

I am definitely going to find myself one and update this post from my experience.

How about you?

Your coach

Nick @nicholas-foster.com