Reverse Mentoring

by Shanice Juma Nakhuva

Reverse mentoring pairs younger employees with executive team members to mentor them on various topics of strategic and cultural relevance. This approach has precedent: in the late 1990s, GE’s Jack Welch used reverse mentoring to teach senior executives about the Internet. But modern reverse mentoring extends far beyond just sharing knowledge about technology; today’s programs focus on how senior executives think about strategic issues, leadership, and the mindset with which they approach their work. 

The process recognises that there are skill gaps and opportunities to learn on both sides of a mentoring relationship and that flipping the traditional format on its head can be beneficial for both parties. It also challenges the idea of mentoring being elitist, as it’s not about a senior person taking someone under their wing, but a formal relationship for the purpose of skill sharing and professional development.

In our research, we found three main benefits of reverse-mentoring programs.

Increased retention of Millennials. Reverse-mentoring programs provide Millennials with the transparency and recognition that they’re seeking from senior management. 

Sharing of digital skills. While digital skill development should not be the focus of a reverse-mentoring program, many of the companies we researched mentioned that it was a meaningful part of the relationship.

Promoting diversity. The global law firm Linklaters piloted a reverse-mentoring program in order to improve leadership’s understanding of minority issues, including those of LGBTQIA+ and ethnic minorities.  

Deloitte recently launched a second edition of the reverse mentoring program. An initiative in which Deloitte leaders are mentored by a colleague with a different background. The executive board started the program last year which then focused on cultural diversity. This year’s edition focuses on four different diversity groups: gender balance, LGBTQIA+, Neurodiversity and Cultural Diversity. Therefore, Hans Honig, CEO of Deloitte Netherlands, and Fatima El Barkani, Senior Consultant, Tax & Legal, were matched. Liesbeth Mol, CQO at Deloitte Netherlands, was linked to Shaju Basheer, Senior Manager of Technology Strategy and Transformation.

By Shanice Juma

4th year Creative Business Student at NHL Stenden

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