It's often referred to as Reverse Mentoring, and it is on a rise since millennials are now the majority in the workforce and a fast-moving workforce at that. In a previous blog we introduced what reverse mentoring is and how influential it can be for both the junior and senior employee, but what are the tips for the mentor and mentee?
Make sure to also read "Understanding Millennial Leaders Before Mentoring" for a better concept of who Millennials are and what they want - whether they are mentoring or in a role of a mentee.
Tips for Reverse Mentoring:
- Patience really is a virtue. There is something for both members to learn from each other. For example: a senior mentee has expertise in how the organization works or how to rise to the C-level position, but because he/she was not born in the age of technology, may rely on the millennial mentor to help find efficient ways to use gadgets to their advantage. This can also relate to the millennial mentor who may know technology, but not know different ways to network other than using social media.
- Imperfect Matching is Perfect. You want your pairing to be from people of two extremes for reverse mentoring to successfully work.While this is true for any mentoring relationship, it's essential for reverse mentoring because it requires confidence and great social skills for a junior employee to mentor a senior executive. It also takes a senior employee to accept that someone younger is able to give insight on their own career.
- It doesn't have to be so formal. Reverse mentoring is a newer, unique type of mentoring because its generally perceived that a mentor is more established and a mentee is relatively newer. The idea that the two are reversed can appear abnormal. Every mentoring relationship should have set outlined goals, but should also set time for the two to learn more about their world outside of work. For example, the millennial mentor can help the senior mentee pick out a cellular phone or the newest gadget for their children. Maybe the senior mentee gives advice on how to manage work and personal time for the millennial. Either way, the relationship should be remain unique since it is already unique to begin with.
- Remain professional. This is specifically related to junior employees when candor is expressed in the relationship. It is all right to joke, but you should always ask yourself if it is appropriate or not. Emotional intelligence, if not common sense, is key in such a relationship.
- Don't dominate the relationship. Yes you both have a lot of knowledge over different concepts, but Millennials should be cautious overstepping by dictating work strategies where they may be less skilled in, Remember, even as a mentor, you are learning as well and that the senior mentee has knowledge you many not have yet.
- Keep an open dialogue. It may feel uncomfortable at first being informed by someone inexperienced than you or understanding a millennial's thought process, but that is exactly why there needs to be a discussion. Ask questions and listen. Reverse mentoring does help and the effects can be so beneficial to you and the wider organization.