In a 2016 survey, nearly 7,700 millennials in 29 countries ( 63 percent) said their leadership skills were not being fully developed.
Being a Millennial Entrepreneur, I feel no shame in confessing that, “I do belong to the 63 percent cult in need of developing leadership skills.”
Usually, I stay away from my mobile phone at work; but, as if it was meant to happen, a notification popped in that read “Reverse Mentoring Program”, and it grabbed my attention. I Googled it since I wasn’t aware of the term or its significance.
Pairing senior executives with younger ones to educate one another to improvise creative thinking and productivity is called “Reverse Mentoring”.
Reverse Mentoring was created by the former General Motors CEO, Jack Welch, in the late ’90s. Many brands like Cisco and Microsoft are implementing this program in order to improvise their recruitment drive and retain millennials.
Once I read about the concept, I thought, “This was exactly what I needed!” I enrolled along with my colleague to take part in the action.
Upon arrival, I was excited to connect and share my knowledge with others. It was a treat to look at a diverse crowd of participants for both age and experience. They split us into groups fused with Millennials, Gen Y, and Baby Boomers.
A facilitator coordinated the event and assigned certain activities. The principal challenge was to choose a random item from the lot and strategize on how to promote it. Our group chose a mobile case which had a stunning visual of the skyline of New York.
Each member of the group poured in their ideas. I suggested running a Facebook Ad targeting New York residents in the meantime who also like the city and use that specific mobile device. A Baby Boomer recommended running a stand in the neighborhood, whereas a younger intern suggested developing an AI and integrate it with a campaign to increase its results.
After numerous similar activities, everyone realized the agenda behind “Reverse Mentoring”. There was a healthy exchange of ideas and knowledge. For example, seasoned executives learned about social media from the younger generation and the younger ones learned about business and industry practices from them.
Gone are the days where the younger generations are the only ones that need training. We need to embrace working together, and Reverse Mentoring can take place within an existing organization coaching program with no extra effort.
Why should you consider “Reverse Mentoring”?
According to Sparsha, a serial entrepreneur, “You not only get to know things, you get to give your insights and values to the group. It does boost your self-esteem and makes one feel valued.” Reverse Mentoring acts as a medium where the seasoned executive rubs off their vast experience on young upcoming leaders, and the young generations share their tech-savvy hacks to make executives familiar with the present times, since these days progress is “Technology Centered”.
I got to learn about AI from a member of my group, and we still share our ideas with each other.
Shinjini Das, a media entrepreneur and TV personality, says: “We are living, working, thinking, and playing in a digital economy with innovation and new technologies at its root. Reverse mentoring enables digital natives to empower those who may not be digital natives to learn the true powers of harnessing digital reach to generate revenue. Since two-thirds of Americans (67%) get news on social media, it is important that these digital natives learn relationship management skills and emotional intelligence from more experienced colleagues, while those with more experience learn how to leverage digital platforms to extend the reach of their messages and generate real-world revenue.”
With reverse mentoring, seasoned executives can mashup their results-driven strategies with fresh ideas from the younger generation to increase efficiency. The present generation has a different approach, and it allows the organization to move forward with advanced and creative techniques.
Josh Steimle, an Influencer Coach says, “Let’s face it – we’re all getting older and no matter how much we say ‘I’m going to stay in touch with the young kids,’ we lose touch and we find ourselves saying the things our parents said like ‘I just don’t understand kids these days.’ There is simply no substitute for direct, personal interaction with young people when it comes to understanding younger generations, and setting up a formal reverse mentoring process ensures it doesn’t take back burner.”
Closing the Gap :
In any organization, the primary reason for differences is lack of communication. Let it be due to a generation gap or any other issue, Reverse Mentoring is an ideal way to fill in the gap. It aids in creating a work-friendly culture and especially enhances during the development stages of marketing, social media promotion, etc.
It also empowers emerging and established leaders while bringing different employee generations closer together. It urges them to push one another out of their comfort zones and embrace a new way of thinking and learning. Likewise, it helps in overcoming differences and enhances effective communication.
Soon, millennials will represent the majority of the workforce. The evolution of coaching methods will benefit all the generations. It’s time we embrace the evolution of coaching programs and improvise while moving forward.