Posted by Sandy Yu on 10.24.2019
“We now have the youngest and brightest teaching the oldest,” Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, explained 20 years ago regarding the efficacy of reverse mentoring.
In his first project focused on reverse mentoring, Welch paired 500 junior and senior employees. He hoped it would result in the junior employees teaching senior employees about new technology and tools.
And it worked.
Today, reverse mentoring is trending once again. However, the purpose of flipping the hierarchy has evolved since the technique was first introduced in 1999. Leaders use it now to go beyond the benefits of mentoring. Instead, it’s used to facilitate key strategic goals, such as increasing retention, encouraging inclusivity and collaboration, and fostering mutual trust between leaders and employees.
Together, all of these overarching strategic goals have one thing in common -- they improve the employee experience. Here’s proof reverse mentoring has the power to take your employee experience to the next level:
Retention is always a key strategic goal. No matter which way the job market shifts, every company leader wants dedicated employees willing to stick it out for the long haul. The key to retaining employees never seems clear, though.
Of course, there are various factors impacting employee retention. Recently, however, companies noticed a proven positive correlation between reverse mentoring and retaining millennials, the soon-to-be largest generation in the workforce.
Take Pershing, a financial services company, for example. Following the implementation of a company-wide reverse mentoring program, Pershing experienced a 96% retention rate for the 77 millennials involved.
“Through my conversations with other millennials, I’ve found this program to be an important factor in keeping them more engaged -- even if they are not directly part of the program,” David Lake, senior associate at Pershing, recently shared in a HuffingtonPost interview.
Kayla Flaten, a vice president at Pershing, believes the increased engagement is a result of those in the program feeling better connected to the organization, as a whole. When more employees feel a greater connection to the company’s goals, their purpose within and dedication to the company grows even stronger.
Inclusivity and team collaboration are critical to innovation. Reverse mentoring brings employees together, regardless of their age, gender, or any other personal factor. Removing the opportunity for these biases to influence mentorship opportunities, allows enhanced creativity and a whole new flow of ideas.
Employees no longer brainstorm solely with those in the same department. Even better, they’re brainstorming with employees on different levels within the organization. When younger employees can openly take their new ideas to the top, they feel included in every important aspect of the organization.
Additionally, the collaborative dynamic throughout the organization is disrupted. Less experienced employees who once felt they didn’t have the credentials to take their ideas to the top begin sharing and opening up. Upper-level management then has the power of new perspectives to increase the employee experience through company-wide inclusivity.
Reverse mentoring bridges the gap between company leaders and employees. It requires a breakdown of ego and any former hierarchical barriers that once prevented the employee experience from reaching new heights.
When less-experienced, younger employees are paired with senior leaders, new and stronger connections have room for growth. Both see one another in a new light which culminates empathy and trust.
Casual mentoring sessions allow leaders to see the potential in employees and recognize their dedication to the company. They’re opened-up to new insights provided by those who may very well be the company’s future leadership team.
On the flip side, employees see leaders putting their ideas and knowledge into motion. They feel not just acknowledged by leaders but see the direct impact of their contributions. Increased trust in leadership and an attachment to company outcomes increases the employee experience through satisfaction and engagement.