Traditionally, we have seen and lived through mentorship top to bottom, meaning senior workers guide younger ones in their careers. But what if young workers can teach senior leaders and bosses too?
In a matter of a few years our societies have changed dramatically; new technologies have taken over the market and changed business and social dynamics to a great extent. While most companies have adjusted, some still struggle to find their place in this new era.
But the answer might lay in the hands of those younger generations that grew up simultaneously to these great technological advances and their aftermath in the economy and society.
Challenging traditional mentorship
Mainly because of their experience, senior leaders and managers guide, help and act as mentors for younger workers who are starting out their careers or are taking on a new job opportunity.
Passing down these experienced knowledge is a big part of learning your way into the company or industry, specially as you are starting out new in a market that is most likely going to feel overwhelming.
But it would be naive to stop the opposite from happening; this is, a company should not take for granted what younger workers can bring into the team by mentoring older colleagues given their unique life experiences and skills.
What is reverse mentorship?
This is precisely what reverse mentorship is about: younger generation workers helping their own managers or bosses understand matters such as consumer preferences, new technologies and tools like social media, or shifting the response to certain social and political issues including equality or diversity, for example.
Reverse mentorship takes a complete different approach to mentoring, which is commonly understood as senior workers guiding younger ones. But if mentoring is about sharing experience and knowledge, and giving advice, why should it only be a one way exchange?
The potential of intergenerational mentorship and exchange of knowledge can in fact be very beneficial for companies for multiple reasons:
Address cultural shifts
One of the most prominent priorities for companies today is that of including social concerns into the workplace, as they are issues that can arise among employers or employees. This means making matters such as diversity or inclusion a central part of the company culture.
Reverse mentoring is a great tool for increased diversity of thinking, as well as for bringing in new social or cultural concerns.
This approach means company leaders or executives can learn from a wider number of people, which in turn means a wider variety of looks into what concerns the company at a given time.
Talking and listening to younger generations can help understand what they value or what they look for, as well as taking to minority groups, for example. In order to make the necessary changes, companies need a real and more holistic approach.
Retain young talent
Working preferences and dynamics are shifting greatly, from the worst of the pandemic to Generation Z taking over the market, now seems to be the perfect time to learn and adapt.
Leaders should not make unilateral decisions around such working dynamics with a solely top-down perspective and approach. Instead, reverse mentoring could be the answer to a more flexible workplace that fosters the wellbeing of all employees.
The so called great resignation or the ‘quiet quitting‘ phenomenon could be avoided with just enough openness to conversation and learning from all ends of the spectrum.
Creating a better employee experience
At the end of the day, reverse mentorship is about inclusion and understanding. Only by listening to employees can companies succeed in making their experience the best possible one, which will undoubtably bring positive things in return.
Productivity, companionship and creativity come from a place of comfortability and safety inside the workplace, and although top-down mentorship is still crucial, we cannot forget everyone plays an important part in the company and so they cannot be left aside.
But, creating a better employee experience and building stronger engagement among employees does not have to be boring. In fact, it can be a force for good, not only for the company but for the planet and society. How is that possible you may ask. We’ve got you covered.
In DoGood we have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.