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Have you considered reverse mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is gaining in popularity.

In this post we set out briefly the ways it can bring value to an organisation, together with the training options we can deliver to help support the integration of a suitable programme.

As the name suggests, reverse mentoring turns the traditional mentoring relationship on its head.  A less experienced employee in the organisation pairs with a more senior, experienced leader.  The aim being to gain insights to various areas of the business by seeing them from a perspective different to their own.

Reverse mentoring retains the skills and practices of a traditional mentoring relationship such as support, sharing best practice, encouraging growth and learning.  It adds the value of directly sharing the accounts and lived experience of junior members of the organisation upwards. Recognising, for example, that junior members are not necessarily the youngest colleagues in an organisation or the more senior the elder.

Topics such as the importance of diversity; the ever-increasing impact of technology in working lives; the pace of change; experiences of generational working; and the challenges posed by COVID, home and hybrid working can all be tackled.

The advantages successful reverse mentoring can bring

When done well, it helps raise levels of business agility, promotes diverse working and cultural change, raises levels of innovation, increases retention rates for younger employees, and promotes digital competence.

The role training can play in a reverse mentoring programme

Training can prove helpful to the different parties involved by providing a safe space to build understanding and trust, where appropriate offer vital practice of the skills learnt, and address the following typically asked questions:

  • How do we put a programme in place that can deliver the benefits we seek?
  • Can a younger, more junior person really mentor someone more senior?
  • How can it work for both parties?

For example, short workshops may be of benefit to:

  1. Designers and senior sponsors of a reverse mentoring programme
    A half-day workshop can cover the organisational benefits, types of programmes, setting one up, and ensuring a good mentor-mentee fit.  Suitable attendees would be senior and middle HR and OD specialists, and sponsoring line managers.
  2. Potential mentors
    A training course to focus on how to reverse mentor effectively, including a short practice session.  Topics covered could include approach, structuring sessions, and the key skills involved (questioning, listening, feedback, observing, etc).
  3. Potential mentees
    A short session to address the brief of how to maximise the organisational benefits of the mentoring programme and avoid potential pitfalls.  For example, tools and techniques could be included to help steer conversations around the more sensitive topics that may be discussed.

Training example for a mentor in a reverse mentoring programme

A 1-day course, delivered either face-to-face or digitally, live online, to meet the following objectives:

  • Understand the role of the reverse mentor.
  • Understand the challenges that reverse mentoring can address, and their value.
  • Establish a reverse mentoring relationship and agree appropriate ground rules.
  • Plan and structure reverse mentoring sessions.
  • Establish the appropriate culture, climate and people-centred approach for supportive mentoring conversations.
  • Learn and practice key reverse mentoring skills.
  • Agree appropriate goals and action plans.
  • Deal with common reverse mentoring challenges.
  • Manage the end of a reverse mentoring relationship.

As ever, we take a flexible approach. Depending on individual requirements, a shorter half-day workshop could be devised for mentors that would take a narrower focus than that detailed above.

Next steps ...

If reverse mentoring is of interest to your organisation, please get in touch and we can arrange for you to chat to a course trainer and developer who will be able to fully discuss options with you.  Please either email us at training@in-equilibrium.co.uk or complete our contact form.


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