What Is Reverse Mentoring?

Published: Jul 31, 2023

 Networking       Work Relationships       
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Mentorship programs exist in a variety of forms. Internships often pair students and recent graduates with experienced mentors throughout the duration of a program, and many employers also offer mentorship programs for entry-level and junior employees. Today, we’re going to be talking about a different type of mentorship program known as “reverse mentoring.” So, without any further ado, let’s begin.

Reverse Mentoring

Reverse mentoring is kind of a tricky name. In essence, a reverse mentorship exists in order to give junior-level employees the opportunity to share their own skills and insights with older, more senior employees. One might like to refer to reverse mentoring as “two-way mentoring,” as most often the purpose of such a program is for junior and senior-level employees to share ideas, exchange knowledge and skills, and gain a better understanding of one another; however, for the purposes of our study, we’ll call it reverse mentoring.

The Advantages

There are many advantages to reverse mentoring. Perhaps most significantly, reverse mentoring can help bring senior employees and junior employees together in a meaningful way. For example, a younger, junior employee might be able to help an older employee learn new software programs, understand new processes, or get a better grasp on the younger generation’s wants and needs, which can be a great advantage when it comes to sales and marketing.

On the other side of things, older, senior employees can provide younger employees with certain wisdom, including the expectations and preferences of members of the senior management team, the history of a company’s products and services, or critical professional survival and networking tips. Working in harmony this way inevitably leads to new and creative solutions to problems, as well as innovative practices among both younger and older generations of employees.

When a company allows its junior employees to engage in reverse mentoring, it’s giving them the opportunity to develop some serious confidence. In the near future, junior-level employees will take on new, more impactful roles where they will be making high-level decisions about a company’s future. Through a reverse mentorship, younger employees will not only gain valuable insight into the future of their careers, but they will also build the confidence they need to move forward when given the opportunity to teach and assist senior-level employees.

For the last few years, many companies have been suffering from high employee turnover in the wake of the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation. When a company offers a reverse mentorship program, it’s showing younger employees that their opinions, perspectives, and knowledge are valued, which can lead to increased employee engagement and retention. Along with this, younger employees will feel more motivated to stay in their careers.

A Successful Reverse Mentorship

In order to create a successful reverse mentorship, one must first identify good potential candidates. Seek out partners who you have some rapport with, and who possess skills and knowledge that you wish to attain. It’s important that you have some degree of chemistry with a reverse mentorship partner, such as common interests or goals. To get started, take note of your strengths and weaknesses. This way, you can more easily identify what you need to work on, as well as what you can offer in a reverse mentorship.

Next, speak with your mentorship partner and decide upon your collective goals and expectations. What do you wish to learn from the reverse mentorship? Which skills can you help your partner develop? Set up regular meetings where you can take inventory of the reverse mentorship and its progress, and make any necessary adjustments as you go along. Remember, a reverse mentorship should be mutually beneficial, so you want to make sure the exchange of information and knowledge is balanced and effective.

Good communication is key for a successful reverse mentorship; however, achieving this is sometimes easier said than done. There are many roadblocks in the way of effective communication in a reverse mentorship, such as the age and experience gap, differences in beliefs or morals, varying perspectives on the workplace, or perhaps conflicting viewpoints on any number of subjects. It’s incredibly important to remain open-minded, patient, and respectful despite any differences, and being a good listener can go a long way toward a successful reverse mentorship.

It’s worth mentioning that in the absence of any formal reverse mentorship program, you can still set yourself up with one if you so desire. In most cases, you should be able to find a more experienced, senior-level coworker who might want to spend some extra time with you during breaks or after hours to exchange ideas or knowledge. You could also look to your professional network in hopes of identifying a great candidate. Either way, there are many benefits to a reverse mentorship, so whether you’re just starting out or you’re a hardened 9-5 veteran, it would be to your advantage to get one going.