Reverse mentoring – what is it and how does it work

Written by
Julia Gumeniuk
Published on
June 25, 2021

Do you think that mentoring can only work when a more senior professional teaches the junior one? Not at all! Reverse mentoring brings the exact opposite when junior professionals take the lead and help senior professionals and executives to widen the horizons and become tech-savvy. But why and how does it work? Let's dig in together.

Why reverse mentoring

The idea of reverse mentoring was introduced back in the late 1990s when the younger employee taught senior executives about internet technology. Nowadays, reverse mentoring serves the same purpose. Companies introduce reverse mentoring so that juniors can connect with seniors, update them on the current technologies, possible shortcuts, and show different points of view.

If introduced within one company, reverse mentoring can bring many benefits, starting from bottom-up feedback to inclusion support. This way, the program covers many more touchpoints than just educating senior colleagues with new technology, also working as a mediator between different age levels in the company and addressing ageism.

Reverse mentoring is also beneficial for both mentee and mentor coming from different companies and areas of expertise. The initiative broadens the horizons of a mentee. It brings in new perspectives, as a mentee gets to talk with a mentor from another generation and another work environment. A mentor can also introduce a mentee to their network of professional contacts, connecting with new people from a different generation.

How does reverse mentoring work

The program of reverse mentoring is identical to one of traditional mentoring. Mentee (who is a senior professional) defines development goals, and as next mentee is matched with a mentor (who is a junior professional with a full skill set). Then mentee and mentor regularly meet and get to work on the set goals.

Mainly, reverse mentoring helps to tackle the gap in the digital area between younger and older professionals. Mentees can dig deeper into separate tech areas, such as exploring social media channels or understanding various tech tools (Asana, Trello, MS Excel or Word). Based on the goals, it's also possible to learn the whole product management package, explore the tools supporting Agile, or apply new design technologies instead of old handmade techniques. The options are limitless.

What it takes for successful reverse mentoring

Same as with traditional mentoring, it's essential to keep in mind several conditions that make reverse mentoring successful. Both mentor and mentee need to remember about the equal amount of responsibility and respect. It's the mentee's responsibility to set goals and be motivated, and, in reply, it's the mentor's responsibility to be patient and explain technicalities in detail.

To sum up, there are many benefits available both for mentor and mentee enrolled in the reverse mentoring program. While a mentor can strengthen their leadership and teaching skills, a mentee gets to broaden its horizons, understand another generation, meet with totally new people, and learn tech skills.

Do you think that reverse mentoring is something you need right now? Check out the Femme Palette Reverse Mentoring program, where you'll get matched with one of our professional mentors.

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