Corporate Eye

Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

reverse-mentor-relationship

My last post outlined how the Reverse Mentoring technique can improve Board and C-level technology knowledge. Now it is time to look at “proof of concept”. Do companies use this technique and are there benefits?

Since GE introduced it in 1999, more companies have introduced Reverse Mentoring as a enterprise practice. Here is a sample of those companies:

 

COMPANY INDUSTRY REVERSE MENTORING DISCUSSION
Mastercard Financial DOCUMENT
HP Technology DOCUMENT
Coty Cosmetics DOCUMENT
Citicorp Financial YouTube
Deutsche Telekom Telecommunications Document
Cisco Technology BLOG
Burson-Marsteller Media YouTube
Hartford* Financial STUDY
Kimberly Clark Asia-Pacific Consumer Products Twitter
Credit Suisse Financial DOCUMENT

*(Hartford partnered with the Boston College Center for Work & Family and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work in a comprehensive research study on Reverse Mentoring. The full report is available in the STUDY link for Hartford)

Benefits of Reverse Mentoring

Companies using Reverse Mentoring typically realize benefits such as:

Organization/Mentees

  • Improved Innovation Governance decisions
  • More enlightened strategic  plans
  • Better awareness of tacit knowledge of internal employee attitudes perceptions on issues (typically much of this is lost in the filtering of information before it is presented to C-levels)
  • Improved Millennial recruitment and retention

Mentors/Millenials

  • Enhanced leadership skills
  • Corporate knowledge that would otherwise take years to acquire
  • Increased job satisfaction

Potential Problems

Reverse Mentoring, when applied effectively, has dual benefits for participants. To be sure, this is a very high level summary. More can be learned from the corporate links mentioned above.

Yet, as with all human endeavors, there may be problems. Perhaps a poor match of mentee and mentor occurs. The solution here is a matching process used by Hartford. A individual profile was developed and identified business experience, personal interests, education and goals. This was carefully analyzed to define good matches.

Consultants Aon Hewitt in a research report say:

In a mentoring relationship, unlike in a formal manager/subordinate relationship, there are no defined requirements. However, defining clear objectives and establishing boundaries and timelines will help set expectations for both mentor and mentee.

A more vexing and difficult-to-solve problem is executive hubris. Some C-levels are reluctant to take advice from a younger employee with less experience. In this case the CEO may want to set the tone at the top and become a mentee. In addition such executives should be counseled regarding how Reverse Mentoring is in the best interests of the organization.

All companies are careful about security and protection of the “corporate jewels”. So there is a concern that young mentees may indiscreetly share information discussed during mentoring with their colleagues. Citibank tried to solve this by using mentees from a business school (see Citicorp link). However, this eliminates the benefits for employee-mentees leadership development and building employer branding.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.
 
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