By Cheryl Cran
What do companies like Microsoft, UnitedHealth and Target have in common? They are all on board with a formal reverse mentoring program by Millennials.
Power Home Remodeling of Chester, Penn., which Fortune recently named the nation’s number one workplace for millennials, places a strong emphasis on mentor ship and pairing Millennial employees with seasoned leaders in the company.
I am guessing it was a traditionalist or a Baby Boomer who coined the phrase ‘experience is the best teacher’.
Millennials would say that trial, failure, innovation and being tech savvy are the best teachers.
In our fast-paced world of social networks, new technology, digital natives and gamification the need to keep up has never been greater.
By 2020, millennials will represent half of the global workforce and are already well on their way to becoming the majority.
With multiple generations working in today’s workplace, leaders are challenged with a growing generational gap, shifting expectations, as well as the pressing need to stay on the leading ‘digital’ edge.
To help, more and more senior executives are turning to their younger colleagues for insight and guidance.
Traditional mentoring as we know it has shifted into reverse, turning Gen Y into the must-have mentors for senior leaders who want to stay ahead.
The future of work requires leaders who are agile and adaptive and a key component of being both agile and adaptive is the ability to be ‘coached’ or ‘mentored’ without ‘ego’. Age is not a factor when it comes to learning – in fact the more divergent the places that leaders learn from the more likely there will be an increase in innovation.
Here’s how companies like Microsoft and Target are setting up their reverse mentor programs:
- Reverse mentoring sessions take place once every two months and span a wide range of topics.
- Focus is on how to improve business, improve technology and improve customer delivery as well as employee programs.
- Goals are set for improved communication for every one in the company – reverse mentoring increases insights into other ideas and approaches of each generation.
- Reverse mentoring sessions are casual and relaxed.
Senior leaders that participate in reverse mentoring benefit from new ideas, reflection on leadership with a new perspective and collaborative innovations. The additional gains through reverse mentoring are the sharing of thoughts, new insights, raising questions and getting to understand each other.
By flipping the mentoring relationship, Gen Xers, Yers and Zoomers are learning to better collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths. Reverse mentoring is a give and take, and when done well, it adds invaluable perspective for both sides of the mentor-mentee relationship. A true win-win. Reverse mentoring by Millennials increases dialogue and trust and breaks down the barriers of ‘generational’ differences. The future of work is now and a future of work strategy is reverse mentoring by Millennials.
Cheryl Cran is a future of work expert, founder of NextMapping.com and the author of 7 business books including her newest, “NextMapping – Anticipate, Navigate and Create the Future of Work.” @cherylcran; Facebook.
Millennials stock photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock