Reverse mentoring serves as a framework where younger employees begin taking on the function of mentors inside the organization. This practice is usually carried out by partnering them with a senior coworker (and, on occasions, even adult managers). The younger worker assists and mentors their seniors on an array of subjects today’s youth are more acquainted with, including technology, software tools, diversification, and so forth. Check out what you can learn about reverse mentoring in this essay:

What Is Reverse Mentoring?

reverse mentoring

You’ve likely heard something like “newer generations or employees ought to pay heed to their older peers” no matter what field you work in. It’s so common that each older adult seems to keep saying it repeatedly.

Do not, however, get us wrong. There is indeed a Great deal that current generations can acquire from older employees — such as managing stress, leadership skills, or other things cultured only with experience.

But one point that isn’t discussed as much is how younger folks also have a lot to offer. That’s where “reverse mentoring” emerges, where younger people teach older people a few things.

Reverse mentoring in an organization is something that many businesses should look into. It is an underrated major influencing factor that could positively impact a company’s growth, advancement, and team spirit.

This practice is particularly relevant for established firms that aim to expand and stay relevant in the modern, dynamic, and fast-paced operational environment — where the client’s requirements, desires, thought processes, attitudes, and demands have considerably evolved compared to earlier times.

In such cases, reverse mentoring in an organization is beneficial in pushing the company toward fresh, unknown territories and reaping the benefits of novel opportunities.

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What Is the Power of Reverse Mentoring: Explained With Examples

reverse mentoring definition

Even though reverse mentoring at work might seem simple, there is more to it than meets the eye, as there is with everything in professional and business life.

But first, before anything else, let’s describe reverse mentoring. Techopedia says that reverse mentoring is “an initiative in which younger employees pair up with older executives and teach them about things like technology, social media, and current trends.”

The notion of reverse mentorship in workplaces has been in existence for quite a while. It was started in 1999 by Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric at the time. The concept was those younger workers who knew more about technology would teach and even coach their older coworkers on how to use newer technology.

This approach is still valid today, but it has also spread to topics like mobile applications and social networks. So, if you notice many old people at work saying things like, “What’s a tweet?” or “Why should I post my pictures online?” it may be time to do some reverse mentoring at the workplace.

The 2015 movie “The Intern,” written and directed by Nancy Meyers, is an excellent example of reverse mentoring. In the film, Robert De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old retired executive who used to work for DEX One, a Yellow Pages business that is no longer active.

Because he is frustrated with retirement, he applies for the senior intern program at About the Fit, a rising e-commerce star run by Anne Hathaway. The entire movie doesn’t go too deep into the specifics regarding the reverse mentoring notion, as it’s more about the individual connections between the protagonists.

The Intern movie
Scene from the movie ‘The Intern’. Picture courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

But the concept of reverse mentoring is quite prominent and noticeable throughout the movie, and it plays a significant part in the way this story storyline shifts and gets fixed. Ben Whittaker gains much knowledge about the e-commerce sector, including how to use email and social media.

He also gains confidence in himself and with innovation. As he acquires knowledge from his younger counterparts and millennial co-workers, he reveals his old-school views on things that the current youth generally ignore. This approach enables all the characters to evolve in different ways without letting go of their personalities.

Numerous companies have attempted their editions of reverse mentoring programs on the worksite, and most of them have been successful. The objective is to guarantee that workers from various generations and cultures can learn from each other.

This will make it easier for employees to work together and create a more diversified and socially conscious workforce. All of this should make the company far more forward-thinking, with staff members who are aware of both social and technological trends.

What Are the Benefits of Reverse Mentoring?

reverse mentoring benefits

Recognizing these technological advances can help a lot, especially now when innovation and technological tools are such a big part of how several organizations and businesses perform business. And it wouldn’t be reasonable for older employees to get rid of them because they don’t know how to use the new digital tools.

We know that the younger generations are keener to discover, understand, and master emerging technologies. This makes them ideal “experts” to help educate older work colleagues about the same things.

Once older employees feel comfortable with the new technology, they can bring their great deal of experience to the table and often look for new ways to use modern resources for the organization’s good.

A Situation Where Everyone Is a Winner

For reverse mentoring to operate in the worksite, it requires the help of everyone, first from (generally older) managers back down to the millennials who might be mentors.

The experience could be a stepping stone for younger workers that helps them get better at their jobs and gives them more tools to move up the corporate ladder.

For the senior staff and executives, it’s possible to get a new look at things, which is something that numerous enterprises need today, and see ways that the organization can grow and change in the future.

Individuals who have been part of effective reverse mentoring relationships at jobs are quick to point out how important it is for everybody to align with the initiative.

So, everyone will have a mind that’s also responsive to both acquiring knowledge and instructing simultaneously. This is an essential trait for a company’s growth on a larger scale.

All of the above statements serve as a testament to the significance of reverse mentoring — a vital and beneficial staff development tool and an intelligent method to manage the millennial workforce that enables them to advance, grow, and evolve into proficient professionals.

Reverse mentoring initiatives additionally allow any company to showcase the value they put on their younger staff members and their contributions to the organization.

9 Tips to Launch and Promote Reverse Mentoring in Your Company

reverse mentoring tips

If you want to start a reverse mentorship program, think about the following:

1. Gauge How People Meet and Think

Don’t just throw people together. In the beginning, you should figure out how each individual learns from another. Choose millennial workers who are very motivated and have a clear view of how things work.

Again, senior workers need to address the whole concept with an unbiased view exempt from prejudice or bias. Staff members with such an attitude would make great mentees. If you don’t respect each other, you’ll waste everyone’s time.

2. Make a Group to Aid Mentors

Even though mentoring someone is a rewarding experience in and of itself, several of your advisors may still have self-esteem issues or doubts about how they are doing things. This is why they must start networking with one another.

It gives the required platform to share experiences and learn new things and techniques. No program has been proven to function seamlessly at its inception. However, such support meet-ups play a crucial role in assisting the program to improve.

Better regulations and guidelines can be designed, which will prove beneficial to mentors, mentees, and the organization. You also can initiate workshops for advisors; check out other businesses that could have more sophisticated and already effective reverse mentoring programs.

Your industries don’t need to be similar. Check if you can ask a few of their mentors to share their expertise and know-how with your organization’s advisors.

3. Set Concrete Goals

workplace culture

For some companies, the primary objective of reverse mentoring was to help bring about digitalization. For others, it was about being different. Both the above goals can add value to an organization and its progress.

However, irrespective of whether your firm goes ahead with one or two goals, it is essential to map out the end objectives. Ensure that your mentees and mentors are aware of the same.

Everyone will be on the same page, and there shall be no confusion regarding what is required to be achieved via the program. Before starting any reverse mentorship program, it’s also necessary to discuss with everyone who will be involved and impacted by it. This way, you can use their views and suggestions to help set specific goals.

4. Follow the Flow

Sure, there should be rules, but since this is a training and mentoring program, make sure that people can work in collaboration in their own way and at their own speed.

As you set up the formal structure of the program, you should also keep in mind that both the mentor and the mentee will learn from this and that people learn in different ways. But also make sure you have a way to keep track of how each mentor and mentee is doing.

5. Use the Right Tools

As with everything else in the company, reverse mentoring at work can only be done well if you have the proper tools to get things done. Use a set of innovative tools that you can easily change to fit the needs and culture of a company.

There are ways to track how long sessions are taking and how fast people are learning with these tools. Many other devices can quickly generate real-time data that helps leaders and managers get a big-picture view of how things are going and make the needed changes to the program and operations.

6. Go for the Right Match

Coaching in the workplace

First, emphasize diversity and try to match people from different regions, departments, and locations. Also suitable for different types of people. For instance, it is wiser to have an introvert partnered with an extrovert than to couple two introverts.

Second, talk to the trainees before attempting to make the relationship official. Most millennial advisors acknowledge any pairing as long as the trainee is committed. Still, executive mentees are pickier because they don’t want to cross supervising lines or give the impression of potential conflicts of interest.

7. Take Care of Mentees’ Fears and Doubts

Many executives don’t want their less-experienced employees to know that they don’t know everything. However, if the concerns are talked about directly, sharing openly can be very helpful.

Numerous mentees also are afraid that younger employees will tell other work colleagues confidential material. But in all the businesses we looked into, we never saw any signs of a loss of privacy.

8. Ensure that Mentees Are Committed

The main reason reverse mentoring programs don’t work is that the executives don’t put the relationship high on their list of priorities. After a bunch of missed sessions, the traction is lost quickly.

The millennial mentors must be in charge of the program. They should share best practices, help choose new cohorts, and train other mentors.

Without coaching, only a tiny percentage of mentor-mentee partnerships work out, but that number goes up with training. In the organizations we looked at, new mentors were trained in having productive meetings with their trainees and how to talk about problems that came up.

9. Don’t Use a Shadow Board and a Reverse Mentoring Program at the Same Time

Shadow boards are another way to bring millennials into an organization. Some of the companies we looked at tried to start both programs simultaneously. This meant that either one always won; they could never both win simultaneously.

However, if you do want to run both a shadow board and a reverse mentoring program simultaneously, deploy different people for each program.


We hope our guide has helped you understand the importance of reverse mentoring and how you can implement this program in your company. If you have any suggestions, share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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