I was talking with my daughter Emily the other night about possibly doing a speech with me to give a fresh perspective and a few points on how she sees things. It reminded me that a friend of mine brought the concept of having a younger mentor up to me a few weeks prior. I was talking to him about mentoring and my idea of the 10 year ring which is always have someone at least 10 years above you as a mentor and you mentoring someone roughly 10 years younger than you. He said he learned that you should have a mentor 10 years younger than you which was foreign to me.
After this discussion with my daughter and the connection I made with my friend I dug into this a bit. It turns out this is a real thing and it is called reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is where a junior team member enters a “professional friendship” with someone more senior. I am a big fan of mentoring, but I always thought it was looking up to someone more experienced. Over my years of working, I have always looked for advice from someone older, more experienced and someone that could save me some pain along the way but really never thought of a younger mentor.
Running a technology firm for many years, I do and did pay attention to the junior/younger team members as they always had something to offer that I could learn. It could be a new piece of technology, some new trend, or at least a different perspective. This reverse mentoring concept can apply today more than ever with the speed technology moving faster than ever and how it is affecting the world around us.
As I dug into the reverse mentoring concept deeper, it appears the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch is credited with the concept. He recognized the lack of technology application with his top executives so he asked them to seek out mentors from the junior team. What’s cool about reverse mentoring is it recognizes the skill gaps on both sides resulting in a win/win for the relationship.
It turns out having a reverse mentoring relationship can have many benefits including:
- Bridging generation gaps in the workforce
- Helping adjust attitudes and mindsets which can be vast
- Sharpening the company and your personal competitive edge
- Purely opening both mentors minds to new ways of thinking
So whether this is in the workplace or at home, learning from someone older for certain things and learning from someone younger for certain things is simply a good thing. How are you learning today? Do you have a silo’ d view of things or a narrow perspective? Challenge yourself to get a junior mentor as well as an experienced mentor.
- If you don’t have a senior mentor, seek one out.
Challenge yourself to think about a junior mentor. If you decided to seek one out, remember these 7 things:
- Dissolve any barriers of status, power and position.
- Create an attitude of openness.
- Have a plan with a goal.
- Define rules for the engagement.
- Listen well, really well.
- Be patient
- Commit the necessary time.
Good Luck and keep learning.