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Bill Gillies - Editor

Reverse mentoring delivers solid value to both parties


Tavia Grant wrote a good piece in the Toronto-based Globe and Mail about the growing practice of reverse mentoring. “Traditional mentoring usually involves an older employee helping to guide a junior colleague. Now, an accelerating trend is flipping that relationship. Reverse mentoring is a radical shift in power dynamics, a response to how fast technology is changing, and what a younger generation of workers has to offer.”

With reverse mentoring, the older employees turn to younger, tech-savvy employees for insights about new tools such as Facebook and YouTube, since invariably the younger employee is more comfortable with the technologies.  The relationship also gives the older employee into the thoughts and values of today’s Net Generation.

In the article, Grant discusses the relationship between mentor Matthew Dobbin, 26, who is a consultant with Accenture Canada.  The mentee is managing partner Rodney Bergman, age 43.

Here’s how the younger Dobbin feels he benefits from the relationship:

Payoff No. 1: “As this relationship has evolved, it’s gone from strictly one way to a two-way [exchange of knowledge]. If I’m working on a paper or presentation, I can bounce ideas off him, ask if he knows of research. It helps solidify my ideas.”

Payoff No. 2: “I’ve also gained perspective on how the business operates that I don’t think young people typically get access to.”

Here’s mentee Bergman’s take:

Payoff No. 1: “As this relationship has evolved, it’s gone from strictly one way to a two-way [exchange of knowledge]. If I’m working on a paper or presentation, I can bounce ideas off him, ask if he knows of research. It helps solidify my ideas.”

Payoff No. 2: “I’ve also gained perspective on how the business operates that I don’t think young people typically get access to.”

Reverse mentoring is growing at Accenture.  Grant says it’s not a HR driven strategy, but has spread more by word-of-mouth.

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