Blog / 4 August 2017

Encourage reverse mentoring to share skills and knowledge

In the fourth of our 10 tips inspired by our Future of Work report Mapping the Digital Future, we take a look at the positives reverse mentoring can bring.

If you want to further improve your understanding and knowledge of the digital mindset, consider turning the traditional student-teacher relationship on its head by encouraging a reverse mentoring programme in your workplace.

Reverse mentoring allows for the C-Suite to gain digital knowledge and insight from a younger generation, who can in turn learn from the experience and wisdom of their senior executives.

With Millennials making up 50% of the workforce by 2020, according to a PwC survey, in a future workplace set to have five different generations working together at the same time, there are lots of new challenges ahead for both modern and established businesses.

One of those is keeping abreast of an increasingly young, diverse and digitally-minded workforce. At Freeformers, we have found one of the most effective ways of stepping up to this challenge is to encourage younger employees to share their knowledge with those at the very top of the organisation.

Freeformers Chairman Sir Anthony Salz believes: “New generations bring different expectations and insights”, which he says must be respected as vital “for progressive and inclusive cultures”. This is why Sir Anthony went on to become the first person to sign up to the new Freeformers Reverse Mentoring scheme.

Sir Anthony is not alone in wanting to work collaboratively with younger generations. Michael Jacobs, General Manager of Microsoft Norway, is a strong proponent of reverse mentoring, stating that it helps him gain: “Insight into the next generation, who they are, what they value and how to communicate with them.” He cites it as an experience unlike any in his career.

The success of reverse mentoring is best understood by examining the workforce of the past, which placed emphasis on the importance of hierarchy, of knowing and sticking to one’s place within the company.

By contrast, young people today have been “tweeting the president since they were 12”. They have grown up with social media, a platform where everyone has a voice and an equal footing.

Therefore, reverse mentoring is as much about supporting this outlook as it is collapsing old attitudes towards hierarchy and encouraging communication.

CEOs who are brave enough to start a reverse mentoring programme now and take advantage of a young, agile and diverse mindset, could quickly and successfully find they breathe new life into their companies and achieve goals they’d not yet imagined were important.

Learn even more about digital and workforce transformation by catching up with previous articles from the Freeformers Changing the Future of Work Mindset Top 10 Tips:

  1. Why you must start at the top to change the Future of Work mindset
  2. Create a collaborative culture to embrace digital transformation together
  3. Your company’s survival depends on digital transformation

To read more from the Freeformers Mapping the Digital Future report, download it here. Are you interested in setting up a reverse mentoring scheme? We are looking for CEOs and leaders to join ours. If this sounds of interest, leave us a comment below to tell us why you want to be involved or email futureofwork@freeformers.com.