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Reverse Mentoring: Page 2 of 2

Having younger staff mentor senior executives to gain new perspective is gaining momentum as a way to develop more equitable leaders. By Esther Shein

Further, it would be a mistake to “just throw two people together and expect there to be understanding of how to do this,’’ she says. “Make sure there are distinct topics for conversation” that are clear and address the company’s cultural challenges. Also, set some structure and expectations for the program such as what the relationship will look like and how long it will last.

Select participants carefully too, because certain individuals are better suited for reverse mentoring, such as those with self-reflective personalities, says Daho. “You have to be willing to hear the hard things and reflect on them and be extremely good at active communication styles.”

The organization should understand the culture it has, gauge the level of interest, and start with a pilot group, Daho advises.

“Deciding this will be a cool idea without figuring out how it will fit into the overall scheme … and not putting in any metrics would be a pitfall,’’ Daho says.

One way to measure success is whether a senior leader volunteers to be a mentee again. Another telltale sign is whether a junior participant is given the opportunity to have the senior leader mentor them once the program has concluded.

“None of it is hard data—it’s more experiential,’’ Lockwood Primus notes.

In the final analysis, “a senior leader has to have the willingness to explore something new and the curiosity to have conversations. … It’s important they come to the table with that mindset,” Lockwood Primus says.

ESTHER SHEIN is a longtime freelance tech and business writer and editor.

Image: iStock

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