Workplace Trend: Reverse Mentoring

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Posted by The Editors on December 6, 2011
 Workplace Trend: Reverse Mentoring

This fall we interviewed Florian Schäfer from The Hartford for one of our publications, and Florian mentioned one of the best things about The Hartford’s corporate culture is its Reverse Mentorship Program. According to Schäfer, the program “connects high-potential, tech-savvy millennials with executives to mentor them on emerging technologies and social media.” It was the first time I’d heard of such a program, but it wouldn’t be the last.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal also posted an article on reverse mentorships and how they are catching on in all industries. The WSJ article cites Jack Welch, noteworthy former CEO of General Electric, as the brains behind this trend. Back when he was CEO, he ordered 500 top-level executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet.

I think reverse mentorships are one of the coolest programs I’ve heard about in my time writing about recruiting trends and workplace issues. Not only do entry-level employees get the unique opportunity to form a relationship with (and maybe even influence) upper-level management, but execs can benefit by learning about social media, useful new apps for their iPads, or how to use their smart phones. They can also hear about millennial’s concerns in the workplace directly from the millennials themselves.

While many companies have a traditional mentorship program, more HR departments should think about initiating reverse mentorship programs. Does your company have a reverse mentorship program? What are the hidden advantages—or disadvantages?

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