Reverse mentoring is great for seasoned executives with loads of business know-how and an embarrassingly weak grasp of technology. It’s also a sucker punch of a victory for an IT outfit struggling to gain visibility in those lofty reaches of the organization. Bart Perkins, writing for Computerworld, has some pointers for how to pair the IT savvy with those tech-challenged captains at the helm.
Mentors – Don’t Blow it!
Mentors, first and foremost, should understand IT strategy. As representatives of IT, they must absolutely keep up appearances and appease their high-level hosts. This will require trust and patience on behalf of both parties. The young mentor, frustrated with the pace of progress and disillusioned with the overpaid louse in their presence shalt not shout, “It’s just copy and paste! Use your hotkeys, not the [expletive]dropdown menu!”
At the Desk Side of Giants
It would also do the mentor well to remember that they are on the receiving end of a unique and coveted form of wisdom that comes only from rubbing elbows with top brass. In fact, the eager and right-minded mentor might actually need to be reminded that this mentoring thing is not their job. It’s just a temporary role that is ultimately snatching time from everyday duties:
Mentors should see their role as an opportunity for professional growth. Access to senior executives is invaluable and often facilitates two-way mentoring relationships. The young mentors have unique access to senior decision-makers who would not even know their names in most large corporations.
Younger staff will sometimes need a degree of coaching for the role of mentor – how to communicate effectively (don’t sass them just because you know more), what is expected in the company culture, and admitting that you don’t always know the best course of action. Additionally, don’t check your phone for texts in the middle of a conversation.
Win One for IT
Mentoring assignments should come with a set of requirements and goals to keep things structured. Toward the end of a mentoring session, it’s often wise for the mentor to solicit feedback about IT from the executive. Take good notes, but beware any defensive language in response to harsh criticism. If there are any un-buried hatchets in the C-suite, IT ought to know about them, and you, the mentor, are their only hope.
Read the original article at: http://www.computerworld.com/article/2983912/it-management/it-can-score-with-reverse-mentoring.html