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Monday, July 20, 2015

Learning Curve: Role of Reverse Mentors

Photo: Diana Griffith
"Seasoned professionals are looking to tech-savvy Millennials to teach them the ropes." according to Diana Griffith, writer, blogger and Florida native.

At GadgitKids, adults and professionals of all ages look toward tech savvy youths for a helping hand with their gadgets. 
Photo: Forward Florida

While the term mentor has been around since Homer’s Odyssey, mentoring began in the U.S. in the 1890s. Social mentorships were introduced with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America in 1904.

The concept of mentoring has become a corporate mainstay as young businesspeople seek the wisdom of successful executives to help them develop the skills and contacts necessary to progress to the next level in their careers. For years, that is how mentoring was viewed. Typically older, more experienced senior-level employees teaching younger junior employees everything there was to know about business and grooming them to become the next generation of leaders.

However, advances in technology sent shock waves through traditional business practices. And it continues to do so.

Employees now are expected to be available on the go through mobile devices as their co-workers or bosses may work in another state or even another country. Business transactions are happening digitally. As a result, traditional mentoring has changed, too, and many businesses are turning to reverse mentoring to keep up with the marketplace.

Embarking on a reverse mentor relationship, however, is very different than a traditional mentoring program. Reverse mentoring, also referred to as multigenerational mentoring, is an inversion of the traditional paradigm. In this case the older employee is the mentee in the relationship, and the younger employee is the mentor. Just as in traditional mentoring, both parties regularly participate over time.

Tapping the Wisdom That Surrounds You
“The focus has to be on the work, challenge, or subject that needs to be done, not about the interpersonal experience,” says Elizabeth Ghaffari, author of Tapping the Wisdom That Surrounds You, (Publisher: Praeger September 26, 2014) a book about different types of mentoring relationships. Executives have to enter this sort of relationship with an open mind, and both parties must have mutual respect. For reverse mentoring to work effectively, the executive has to temporarily set aside the idea of being in a position of power so the lower-level employee can feel comfortable in providing candid advice. “Clear objectives are the key to success,” says Ghaffari. Cecelia Tucker realized the need for a reverse mentor one day when she sought help with her mobile devices.

“If I wanted to learn technology, I better find a teenager who will show me how,” says Tucker. Based on that idea she formed GadgitKids, a Clearwater company where teens and 20-somethings mentor adults regarding all forms of technology including mobile devices, company platforms and industry-specific software.

Source: Forward Florida