Reverse Mentoring as Continuing Education

Not all knowledge comes from books and classrooms. Mentoring is a different “classroom” setting that will help you acquire skills needed for the constantly changing business environment. Mentorships aren’t only beneficial to young professionals trying to get their foot in the door—seasoned professionals have just as much learning to do.

Seasoned Professionals’ RoleSize difference
Professionals at any stage of their career can learn from their younger counterpart—called “reverse mentoring”—but they must have an open mind to do so.

Earning a certification shouldn’t be the end of your professional development. Continuing education, experience with special projects, and mentoring can help you advance your career even further. Young mentees can teach more “seasoned professionals,” for example, how to leverage new technology and use social media in new ways. The generational gap should be used to better the business rather than create barriers of status, power, or position.

You can also harness young mentees’ fresh, outside perspective about processes “you’ve always done” to make them more efficient. Just remember to be open to change and give honest feedback to their suggestions.

Young Professionals’ Role
Most of us know the basics of a mentorship: They help young professionals learn about their new industry, learn tricks of the trade, and work on their career development and leadership skills from seasoned professionals.

origami birds - Large_tealIn a traditional mentoring role, young professionals learn problem-solving skills, how to manage a staff, essential skills for performing well on the job, and more. But these skills aren’t acquired overnight. Mentees must be patient because these skills are developed over time, and there’s always something new to learn. After all, learning is a lifelong journey.

Sometimes mentorships are undervalued because “students” aren’t learning in a traditional classroom. But real-world exposure is arguably the most valuable learning tool for young people.

As someone who recognizes the benefits of reverse mentoring, I encourage you to find a mentee as soon as possible. Become active on social networking sites to be proactive with making these contacts. You will be glad you did.

Have you ever participated in a mentorship? What were your experiences?

Written by Dennis Whitney, CMA, CFM, CAE
Follow me on twitter: @IMA_DWhitney

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Shop Small for Big Benefits

Many organizations have long recognized the importance of small businesses and their contributions to the economy. IMA’s Small Business Financial and Regulatory Affairs Committee (SBFRC), for example, advocates for small businesses and financial reporting matters. You can help too by turning to local small businesses for goods and services.

November 29 is a day when you can make a big impact. Yep, it’s Small Business Saturday, a day that promotes shopping at small businesses in local communities and offers a chance for individuals to make a big impact on both the local and global economies in many ways.

Boost Employment RatesSBS - pic
Small Business Saturday was established by American Express in 2010 and was nationally recognized in 2011 because small businesses help lower the unemployment rate—the most important factor to a growing economy.

The Small Business Administration says that 60% to 80% of new jobs in the United States are created by small businesses, and small businesses account for 99.7% of employers. On a smaller scale, they hire locals, which decreases the community’s unemployment rate.

Engage Your Community
Small businesses help support many aspects of individual neighborhoods, including occupying buildings that would otherwise be abandoned and that would foster crime.
In addition, small businesses cater to their customers who might need specialized products. The customer service provided to this niche market builds stronger customer relationships.

You are also more likely to become a frequent shopper at stores that understand your needs and want to help you, unlike some of the chain stores. And the money you spend there goes back to the community. (For example, the business can make a donation to the town, the sales tax goes to local police or municipalities, and they can sponsor town sports teams or events.)

small business open signGrow the Economy
Small businesses are essentially the backbone of the economy. A survey of independently owned retailers by Civil Economics reveals that 52% of small business revenues are recirculated into the economy, whereas chain stores recirculate only 13.6%.

If you’re drawn more to the boutique rather than the big-box store down the street, the products you’re buying are probably Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—domestically grown or made products that aren’t imports. This greatly benefits the national economy.

By supporting your neighborhood “mom and pop” shops, you contribute to the growth of the economy. What can small businesses do to keep you motivated throughout the year to shop small?

Written by Linda Devonish-Mills, CMA, CPA

Related Links

Small Business = Big Impact
How Does American Small Business Affect the World Economy?
Small Business Saturday Becomes Holiday Tradition in Communities Across the Country in Only Five Years