How to maintain Millennial talent and show the seasoned executives a thing or two about technology

According to Harvard Business Review and using BNY Mellon, the American Investment Bank as an example, companies are struggle to retain Millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) and the New Generation (born after 1996). Part of the problem, it would seem is that companies are not staying relevant to the younger consumers.

In response to these challenges organisations across the world are implementing what has become known as ‘Reverse Mentoring’ where younger employees are paired with seasoned executives with the mentors being the younger person.

Reverse mentoring turns the whole concept of mentoring on its head. Traditionally, more experienced leaders are paired with a younger graduate or intern to help them navigate the nuances of the organisation, help the mentee to progress in their career and to gain wisdom and guidance from the mentor.

With reverse mentoring, the  experienced manager become the student and the graduate, intern or younger person, the mentor.  Knowledge is exchanged across generational boundaries. The young mentor passes on everything they know about new technologies, social media and other digital trends. But it does not have to just be about new technology. A younger person may have a better understanding of cultural and diversity relevance which is essential in the business world. The younger person will bring a different perspective and experiences in the world they live in now and how this can be utilised by everyone, not just the younger workforce.


Reverse Mentoring Benefits

For the younger person (the mentor)

  • Feeling of acceptance, purpose and belonging in the organisation
  • Being respected and noticed for your knowledge and skills
  • Knowing that the organisation you are working for is interested in retaining and talent spotting younger people for their skills, knowledge and expertise
  • Gain exposure to senior executives which enables opportunities to learn from them and how things are done.
  • Working closely with a senior manager outside of your own area of work to gain understanding about their field of work
  • Learn the key skills of leadership
  • Helping to shape a potential future business leader
  • Showcase your own potential leadership skills, work ethic and capabilities for future career development. Those you are mentoring will have influence in higher places
  • Enhance your own leadership, coaching and communication skills

For the seasoned executive (the mentee)

  • Learn about future trends today and staying ahead of the game. It is easy to lose touch with new and every changing and emerging technology
  • Get first-hand experience of the issues that face their organisation as seen from a younger person
  • Encourage frank discussion on current issues
  • Keeping up with current trends and preventing barriers to growth
  • A fresh perspective from fresh eyes. A reverse mentor can often shed new light on a situation
  • Learning new technology tools and techniques
  • Learn how the Internet has expanded from a younger workers’ perspective
  • Involvement with social networking sites
  • Be more familiar with equality and diversity from a younger person’s age group. Their perspective can help in efforts at enhancing diversity and inclusion
  • Risk taking and freeing up old habits. Some younger employees who grew up with technology developed “trial and error” style of learning are comfortable jumping into a situation to find answers. Such risk-taking can free up old habits and drive workplace innovation
  • Seniors get a chance to gain awareness of their leadership style and to spot and evaluate new talent
  • Takes senior execs away from their day-to-day job to have fresh perspectives, an injection of inspiration and a spark of energy from fresh ambition
  • Joint learning and wisdom exchange from your mentee

For the organisation

  • Increased retention of Millennials. If people feel they are listened to and their ideas are contributing to the success of the company, they are less likely to leave. It empowers newer employees and makes them feel trusted.
  • It can help break down stereotypes and encourage better communication and understanding. The divide between very senior and entry level colleagues may not just be generational and it is a brilliant way to encourage dialogue between people from different backgrounds who may never get to speak to each other normally. This can promote diversity and inclusion in race, disability and gender.
  • The original idea from Jack Welch is still valid as younger generations are still better at embracing new ideas and challenging the status quo, but often need a little encouragement to speak up.
  • Young mentors can also gain a lot of benefits from these meetings like leadership skills and a chance to have the ear of someone senior in the business.
  • It can help senior management better understand what the younger generation value and need from their employer.
  • The mentor may have a unique and valuable insight into customer behaviour and understand their needs better than the senior director who is stuck in board meetings and mixing only with colleagues with similar backgrounds and outlooks.
  • Seeing the same situation from a different perspective can be very informative and inspiring for both parties, not just one way.

Speak to us about our new course for 2021 – Reverse Mentoring Skills training

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  • Meet The Author
    Meet the Author:  Sue Noble has been working with Searchlight Insurance Training since 2007 delivering ILM management, leadership, coaching and mentoring programmes. Sue specialises in both coaching and mentoring and when she is not training, Sue will inevitably be coaching executives and senior managers. Sue also delivers Internal Accredited Coaching Programmes through Chartered Management Institute to embed transformational organisational change.