In the year 1999, the concept of reverse mentoring was popularized by Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric. He did a pilot study where he paired 500 senior and junior employees with the hope that junior will teach the senior employees about technology advancements.
This process worked and now young and bright can teach the old. The success of the pilot study helped other companies to adopt this model of reverse mentoring. Companies like Cisco, United Healthcare, Fidelity, etc developed their own reverse mentoring programs.
Reverse mentoring is a shared learning between colleagues of varied background to create a unified corporate learning. Main advantage is that it facilitates organisations to achieve strategic goals like increasing millennial retention, fostering inclusivity, and maintaining competitive advantage through technological advancements
Benefits of reverse mentoring
1- Increasing Millennial Retention
According to data, 43% of millennials plan to leave their current job in two years. Companies are struggling with this and coming up with new employee engagement strategies. But the younger generation demands continuous learning and transferable skill development, career advancements, better opportunities. All these things can be done through reverse mentoring.
Inverting the hierarchy helps millennials to act as mentors, they understand the situation, become more accountable and help the seniors to improve. Millennials feel valued for the contributions and they gain confidence also. Reverse mentoring also help millennials to network with senior leaders which will help them in their future career.
Pershing is a financial services company which implemented reverse mentoring program in their company and saw immense changes. The retention rate was 96% for the millennials who were involved in reverse mentoring.
2- Improving Diversity and Inclusion
Reverse mentoring is a good way to foster diversity and inclusion at the workplace. Pairing senior leaders with employees with disability or employees from different background will help to develop empathic perspective. This will also reduce the unconscious bias.
One of the examples can be, at P&G, senior leaders were paired with disabled employees and found out that the internal videos of the company are of no use for the people who have hearing disabilities. Then the company added captions to all videos which helped the disable people to understand the video.
This can also be an organizational development strategy which can incubate a diverse pipeline of talent.
3- Staying Abreast of Technological Advancements
A lot of senior leaders find it difficult to pace up with the rapid changes in the technological and digital advances. This hinders their productivity. Getting mentored by younger employees on technology will help senior leaders to learn about technology and they can also cope with it. It also helps in getting traditional IT workers out of their waterfall silos.
According to Deloitte, “organizations must put humans in the loop-reconstructing work, retaining people, and rearranging the organization.” Reverse mentoring has its own benefits and is vital for the company but each company should have a reason to implement this program. Reverse mentoring program will only be effective if it is tied to a strong business need.