The current pandemic means more people are now working remotely and adapting business to the virtual environment. This is throwing up all manner of new challenges that we need to work through and doing this with a mentor can now be invaluable. In a time of crisis mentoring just requires a little bit more creativity and adaptation.
In ordinary circumstances, many mentors focus on the career development side of mentoring. Although those remain important, other functions such as demonstrating emotional and social support are especially valuable in these uncertain times. This may involve a mentor listening to understand mentees’ struggles and concerns, acknowledging and validating the challenges they are facing and the distress they are feeling. A mentor can also share their own experiences during the shutdown of normal work.
Most traditional mentoring scenarios assume the pairing of an experienced leader or professional with a younger person to achieve a goal or overcome a challenge.
Now, more and more we are seeing experienced professionals turning to "reverse mentoring" in which individuals – older and younger - encourage mutual growth and each gain new knowledge and expertise as a result.
The practice of reverse mentoring became more widespread after Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, required his top-level executives to connect with employees below them to learn how to use the Internet.
At a time when technology and the way that organisations operate is changing so rapidly, individuals need to look for every opportunity to keep their knowledge and skills relevant. Reverse mentoring has become a way for professionals to strengthen skills and competencies in the interest of remaining competitive in today's marketplace.
Reverse mentoring can be used to kick-start creative thinking and to close the knowledge and skills gap for both parties. It gives a less-experienced professional access to a more experienced professional's business insight, while the experienced professional learns about the latest technology trends and skills.
Reverse mentoring can also help to increase both participants productivity as it gives them a channel for getting questions answered and finding resources quickly, saving time and effort.
As with any mentoring relationship, a productive reverse-mentoring relationship will also help produce increased confidence and expanded communication skills.
For reverse mentoring to work, younger professionals need to feel confident enough to share their opinions and give feedback to older colleagues. Likewise, senior professionals need to overcome their pride and fears and be open with their younger mentor, revealing areas where they lack skills and knowledge and be open to receiving feedback from them. If these issues are addressed, reverse mentoring can be incredibly rewarding.
If you think reverse mentoring could benefit you then why not take a look at our mentoring platform.