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The power of reverse mentoring

Discover how this unique approach can revitalise executive development and bolster business growth. Priya Parakasan

The former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, popularised the concept of reverse mentoring, which involved pairing his top executives with junior associates. This was done to help top executives understand how to get the most out of the Internet back in the year 1999. Today, many organisations have adopted reverse mentoring to bolster employee engage, help C-level executives expand their knowledge base, stay on top of trends, keep an ear to the ground and stay informed about what’s going on among the junior staff. Pairing an experienced executive with a younger or junior associate is a great way to facilitate knowledge flow and maximise potential, which in turn create forward-thinking business strategies. Here are some of the far-reaching benefits of such a program.

Drives business growth
Mentoring is very rewarding in any organisational field. By partnering young employees with leaders in the company you’re creating new opportunities to kick-start innovation. This system provides both the mentor and the mentee an opportunity to push their limits and bolster their capabilities. It also facilitates the exchange of information and perspectives, helping provide out-of-the-box ideas, processes and solutions that enhance business growth.

Experience beyond peer groups
Reverse mentoring is a two-way street; it helps close the knowledge gap between the mentor and mentee. Both parties have access to new information, perspectives, ideas, etc that will broaden their horizons and open them to new/alternative ways of thinking. There’s also an exchange of practices and processes. All of this results in significant personal growth for both parties. Importantly, none of this would have been possible if either party hadn’t ventured outside their peer group and comfort zone.

Saving on training and development
The concept of reverse mentoring works well if the organisation has a limited training and development budget. You can initiate such a program by bringing together employees from different levels and encouraging them to build relationships. Senior executives can pass on their career learnings and help their juniors find a strong foothold in the organisation as well as industry. This kind of a system provides much needed support, encouragement and coaching in crucial aspects of workplace development.

Welcome break from the norm
Reverse mentoring is a spin off the traditional approach, exposing participants to a new experience and method that has its own unique benefits. It gives senior executives a chance to break from the routine to encourage new ideas, brainstorm new processes, build better systems, and encourage new relationships. Organisations can build long-term reverse mentorship programs to encourage learning, collaboration, and innovation in a unique way.

Empowers emerging leaders
Since the younger mentors will also be sharing their knowledge, ideas, plans, etc it’s a great way for them to raise their professional profile. This close relationship with a senior executive will also build on their work skills, increasing their confidence and driving them to take on larger roles and responsibilities. In this way senior executives help the organisation by shaping tomorrow’s leaders and increasing internal hires.

Photograph: Katemangostar – Freepik.com 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz

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