Reverse Mentoring: Turning Tables on Tradition

Posted by Robert Half Management Resources

Mentoring has long been recognized as an effective workplace practice and positive experience — a way for veteran finance professionals to pass on industry and organizational knowledge to less-tenured colleagues.

Now, more companies are turning the formula around with reverse mentoring, and finding it’s just as constructive to have expertise and insights flowing up the hierarchical ladder.

Reverse mentoring arrangements pair more experienced professionals — typically, executives and managers — with employees of younger generational groups; for example, Millennials, who tend to be on the cutting edge of technology-related trends. From these employees, managers gain insight on everything from the ins and outs of social media to Gen Y professionals’ perspectives on career and work.

An upward view

Managers benefit from reverse mentoring by forging closer relationships with their employees. And Millennial workers can help them see business challenges and opportunities from the point of view of a generation that has a growing presence in the workforce.

For instance, financial executives can gain greater insights into issues such as what it will take to retain professionals in the early years of their careers or why a more flexible approach to work is needed.

In return, nontraditional mentors also realize numerous benefits. Besides the satisfaction of gaining a stronger sense of purpose, the arrangement gives them unique access to influential people in their company who they might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. It’s also a way for up-and-coming professionals to share their perspectives on a range of issues with business leadership.

As in more traditional mentoring relationships, the interaction between the two parties also strengthens trust and understanding on both sides. This can boost morale, and, ultimately, retention.

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