IT Best PracticesLearning Organizations

Can Reverse Mentoring Work in IT?

Everyone is familiar with the joke where a parent or grandparent is baffled by a new piece of technology, only to have a child solve the problem with the press of a button. It’s a nice reversal of traditional roles when it comes to technological competency, but this extends much further than a few laughs. In an article for the Enterprisers Project, Kevin Casey explains how “reverse mentoring” may be something IT will implement moving forward.

Putting Mentoring in Reverse

Reverse mentoring works on a simple premise: Take the traditional roles of older mentor and younger mentee, but flip the ages. The core concept of this process is that younger generations have a greater exposure to new technology and trends than their older counterparts might. It helps leaders remain in touch with the world around them, but it also gives younger employees greater connections to more established members of an organization.

The idea didn’t just fall out of the sky either. It’s been steadily brewing since before 2011 as a new way for organizations to approach the digital age. And as emerging technologies have become the norm, people have begun to push back against the age-specific approach to reverse mentoring. One of these individuals, technologist Lauren Hillinger, particularly pushes back against the mentor-mentee dynamic and instead offers a model that is more of a back-and-forth between two people:

Hilliger advises pairing people based on skills and experience rather than than job titles or age; similarly, consider making mentoring a two-way street in which both people are learners as well as teachers.

“We’re social creatures, so creating a dynamic that puts both participants in the mentoring role would ultimately benefit both employees and the organization better than being pedantic about who’s the mentor versus mentee,” Hilliger says. “As an example, while one party might mentor in technical skills, the other might have advice or counsel on business [and] political skills.”

Reverse mentoring can even help break up the specialist bubble that creates echo chambers and stifles innovation. By giving people the chance to talk to one another and teach one another about their specialized areas, more new ideas and approaches can be adopted across the board. It’s a system that can benefit everyone involved.

You can view the original article here: https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2017/8/reverse-mentoring-it-right-it

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