In common with most experienced leaders I’ve mentored people and been mentored. Choosing my mentor has tended to consist of looking upward and occasionally horizontally across my business contacts but I’ve never looked down, until now. And it seems that I’m not alone in looking to keep my digital skills box fresh by adopting the vampire strategy that is ‘reverse mentoring’.
Recent research into the digital talent skill gap has found that companies are inverting the traditional mentoring model to take advantage of in-house capability at junior levels. Using talented, younger employees to coach leaders is increasingly seen as a cost efficient and fast means of equipping senior teams with the digital tools and insights they need to integrate into their strategies and take advantage of ‘Big Data’ insights that sophisticated analytics can provide.
This type of ‘reverse mentoring’ program has been pioneered by General Electric and subsequently adopted by companies such as L’Oréal and Cisco. It’s likely to become an integral part of digital adoption programs precisely because it’s a ‘win/win’ scenario for talented employees and leaders alike. It plays well in existing collaborative cultures and can break down barriers between the boardroom and the front line staff. For my part, I’ve found it to be the fast fix needed to take those first few steps into becoming a pro-active digital leader. Follow through over the next few weeks should start to demonstrate the return on my investment and I know my mentor/s will be watching keenly. In fact, spurred on by this experience I’m actively looking to find other areas where I can be ‘reverse mentored’ but maybe I’ll give twerking a miss.