Merge's Blog

Reverse mentoring: working one-on-one with a younger colleague can help you stay relevant

reverse mentoringI often discuss the value of one-on-one mentoring relationships with my clients as well as here on the blog (in fact, one-on-one mentoring makes up a significant portion of my professional practice).  The assumption with mentoring is often that it is a one-way effort – veteran staff mentoring younger employees.  However, there is just as much value in reverse mentoring – where senior employees benefit from a one-on-one learning relationship with someone who is much younger.  The value can come in many aspects, but the most beneficial is likely in the area of technology.

When it comes to technology, there are many tools and resources out there that you may have never heard about.  So if you are over 35 years old, it’s worth considering a reverse mentoring relationship with a younger work colleague.  Ask your younger mentor what trends they are observing and what new technologies they are trying out.  Ask them to show you how these tools work.  Tell them about the work-related challenges you are facing and see if they have solutions to offer that you may not have considered, or for that matter, even know about.

But it’s not just technology!

Another benefit from a reverse mentoring relationship is that your young mentor can check you when you get caught in the past.  Many of us who are over 35 years old, inadvertently, fall into the trap of talking about what was – Back in my day …, Here’s how we’ve always done it …, We used to … – and we end up dating ourselves, to our detriment.  So ask your junior co-worker to point out when you refer to the past too often.  It’s a good reality check to make sure that you don’t get stuck in the past, and continue to stay relevant in your workplace.

So have you entered into a formal reverse mentoring relationship?  How is it working?  Is it effective?  Whether you’re the mentor or the “mentee”, I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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