For the first time, there are five generations in the workforce. And with these different generations working side-by-side, there are new challenges with communication and employee engagement.
As a result, many companies have launched reverse mentoring programs as a way to engage their millennial employees and address the challenges that come with so many generations working together.
Reverse mentoring involves pairing veteran executives with younger employees who help the executives better understand new trends and how to communicate with millennials. This type of mentorship has proven to be a win-win for companies.
Millennials feel a sense of importance and alignment to their workplace, and companies benefit from tapping into millennials’ capabilities and unique ways of thinking.
Before you implement a reverse mentorship program in your organization, here are some recommendations for making the program a success:
Make sure support comes from the top. Not only should your CEO be on board, but the CEO should also be the program’s biggest champion.
Do a pilot program first. Before taking the program company-wide, start out with one mentor-mentee relationship, one project team or one department. After evaluating the pilot program, decide if any tweaks need to be made before you expand the program on a wider basis.
Consider different formats. While reverse mentoring is effective in a one-on-one setting, it can work well in small groups, too. Many millennials grew up thinking they can do anything, so they like to solve problems, especially in a team environment. A project team with a mix of different generations is a great way to engage millennials while driving excellent results.
Using the Hartman Value Profile, we can measure and identify people who can think of new ways of doing things, the first step in building effective project teams.
Make the program a priority. Any mentorship program involves a major time commitment, and if people already feel stretched for time, it’s easy for a program to fizzle out. Make sure your mentors and mentees are committed and that regular, recurring meetings are set.
Get feedback from mentor and mentee. Feedback shouldn’t wait until after the program is complete. Set up meetings on the front end to determine expectations, meet during the project to find out how things are going, and then get feedback at the end. Ask consistently if the experience is beneficial, and what both parties are learning.