4 reasons to introduce reverse mentoring 

HR consultant Edwick Mabika explains the benefits of reverse mentoring.

In the wise words of Greengard (2002), “Executives are beginning to realise that knowledge isn’t a one-way street. It’s in everyone’s best interest to share expertise”. Reverse mentoring is one form of sharing expertise that, in my opinion, is not applied enough by many organisations. Reverse mentoring is when traditional roles are switched and a younger individual mentors an older, more experienced mentee as an innovative way to encourage learning and facilitate cross-generational relationships. The purpose is knowledge sharing, with the mentee focused on learning from the mentor’s updated subject or technological expertise and generational perspective. It is high time organisations around the globe appreciate the benefits that come with reverse mentoring. 

Even though it has been said that by the year 2025, millennials will form 75 percent of the global workforce, few organisations have started to embrace reverse mentoring programs in their organisations. Understanding the perspective of younger employees is key to managing the future world of work. Here are four reasons reverse mentoring is something you organisation should consider implementing.

1 Cost-effective learning 

Since it relies on skills of individuals already in the organisation, reverse mentoring is an innovative and cost-effective professional learning and development option that builds bridges between generations. It can be conducted formally with set, regular schedules, or it can be more casual depending on the organitational culture and preference. It can be a very cost-effective way to equip senior leaders in the organisation with the tools and knowledge they need to navigate the fast-changing world of work.

2 Growing the leadership skills of millenials

If one looks at millennials, they are ambitious, educated and keen to take responsibility. There is need to prepare them for future leadership and their development, therefore, needs to be accelerated. In this regard, reverse mentoring provides the young generation of employees with the necessary expertise and experience from the senior employees, which is vital to add onto their education. Young mentors have also the psychological benefit as they feel recognised and also learn key leadership skills from these interactions these will prepare them for future management position and advancement of their career faster.

Reverse mentoring also helps learning about the business and wider industry practices at large. These millennial employees in the next years will be captains of industry. It is therefore pertinent that every business jumps on the speeding train attached to this fast-moving future. In this way, reverse mentoring is a unique talent management strategy where millennials are motivated and feel valued by the organisation when they are able to share their knowledge with more senior employees with the increased contact with senior management and through quality of the interaction. They are able to prove their quality and competencies and early identification of high performers can be observed.

3 Giving older employees a better grasp of tech 

To get the best out of millennials, senior employees can tap into the knowledge of these individuals on matters of technology, after all, this is a generation that is incredibly tech-savvy. The senior employees gain valuable modern skills which are vital and makes them relevant in this digital era. When there is a good mix of these two, the organisation continues to be productive and growth is inevitable. Business leaders can tap into new ways in the informative world on issues of modern day smart work rather than good work that has been the order of the day . 

4 Better work relationships

One of the major benefits of a reverse mentoring programme is that it’s a great way to break down the barriers between generations. Because of diverse backgrounds of the people that can be paired together, there is a cross-generational communication that will result in better empathy and understanding of employees' cultures. 

Edwick is a consultant at First Mutual.