For years, mentoring has meant that a senior manager or executive would take a younger employee under their wing and teach them the ins and outs of the business. This is still an essential practice that imparts valuable knowledge to the next generation. However, in today’s business world, the system requires a little tweaking. Millennials need to be taught different kinds of skills, and in order to do this, it’s going to require that senior leaders “flip the script” on mentoring.
Millennials tend to work collaboratively; they excel in a team environment where everyone does their part. The area where Millennials are lacking in is their leadership abilities. Because of their collaborative nature, they see everyone as an equal. Businesses need to be forward thinking; we need to be prepared for the time when the current generation of leaders starts to retire. Millennials will have to step up into leadership positions, and many will not even know where to start. This is where reverse mentorship comes in.
By becoming a “mentee” to a junior employee’s “mentor”, senior leaders will be able to guide Millennials in the ways of leadership—how to be the head of a team rather than just part of one. Giving the junior employee a measure of authority and responsibility, while still maintaining overall control, will give them the confidence to “step up”.
Reverse mentorship has many benefits for the senior leader as well. Their “mentor” can teach them valuable skills about technology and digital communication. It might also be the first time in many years that the senior leader hasn’t been in charge. That presents a great opportunity for the senior leader to relearn how to be part of a team. In this sense, mentorship in the business world has become much more of a two-way street. Everybody learns and everybody wins!