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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2 thoughts on “Reverse Mentoring as Continuing Education

  1. I find it so refreshing to work with young professionals and serve as their mentor, because as you say, I learn from them and gain a different perspective on aspects of my industry and my work. Their comments, questions, and pure enthusiasm gives me a renewed appreciation for my career and my clients. Sometimes I even discover a new business idea after chatting with my mentee!

    • That’s a perfect example of the mentor/mentee relationship. It’s important to keep young business professionals top of mind—they are the future after all. And as long as companies keep open minds, the future is very bright!

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