Reverse mentoring and learner organization: When the junior "coaches" the senior

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In classic mentoring, a senior citizen takes care of an even less knowledgeable younger person so that they can develop in predefined areas. in the Reverse Mentoring this works the other way around.

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Anne M. Schüller's Profile anne-m-schueller_portrait-mit-hutAnne M. Schüller is a management thinker, keynote speaker, business coach and multiple award-winning bestselling author. She has repeatedly been named Top Voice by the business network LinkedIn.


From the author:






Bridge between Old and Next Economy

The goal of Reverse Mentoring is to bring digital fitness to life Company to increase overall, to rejuvenate processes and structures, to adapt old-fashioned ways of thinking and working to the requirements of the future and to familiarize older colleagues, managers and top management with the living environment of millennials. The junior “coaches” the senior in such subject areas that “young” can do better than “old”. This creates a learning organization that makes you fit for the future.

“With the program, we want to build a bridge between young and older employees and improve their interaction. If every generation stays in its corner, there will be no innovations, ”explains Christine Jordi, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Credit Suisse. Since 2012, up to 34 tandems have met six times each in a half-yearly round.

Suitable for any company

So far, companies and major companies such as IBM, Henkel, Merck, Bosch, Continental, Allianz, Lufthansa, Deutsche Telekom and Credit Suisse have also launched the Bank Austria Reverse Mentoring programs, but also the General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (WBF).

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In the US, Procter and Gamble, United Health, Target, Deloitte, PwC, Cisco and many others already work with it. The concept is of course also suitable for medium-sized and smaller companies.

Avoid hierarchical dependencies

Like the big ones, they face the many challenges posed by digital transformation. And they also have to deal with the latest social developments.

It is important to note: There must be no competition or mentality between Mentor and Mentee. Reliability, integrity, openness and honesty are a must. In addition, it requires voluntariness on both sides combined with absolute discretion. The actors must be able to live together with one another, as well as to feel trust and respect for one another. They regard themselves as equal and meet with each other on the same level.

The added value for the company

In most organizations, there is a persistent need for learning for digital stragglers. This has to do with reservations, with personal disinterest, but also with the rapid development of the digital economy and the tight time budgets on the upper floors. The dialogue between young and old at different approaches and standpoints over generations and hierarchies can stimulate overall corporate culture and improve understanding for each other.

The knowledge transfer is optimized and the learning pyramid is also turned upside down. In addition, a more open-minded approach to future issues is achieved and the digital IQ is enhanced throughout the company. If, in addition to their own digital pro - fessionals, alumni are also involved in the program, they may find their way back into the company. Finally, reverse mentoring can be a key feature for employer branding and should therefore be actively marketed.

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The added value for the mentor

The mentors, who can be recruited from among trainees, young professionals and high potentials, are highly valued through their commitment. They gain visibility in the company, broaden their professional and interpersonal skills, expand their personal network, gain direct access to the top of the company and thus also push their career path.

They gain an understanding of the other side, and respect for what has been created in quite different circumstances during previous years. In addition, they receive detailed insights into the classical management and learn from the mentee. In addition, during their mentoring activities, they collect a wealth of experience that can be useful for any kind of project work.

The added value for the mentee

Of course you can discuss private internet usage questions with your own children, if these are at the appropriate age. In reverse mentoring, on the other hand, the issue is the operational context. It is a gentle program that offers many advantages over classic training concepts. Thus, one can even ask questions such as those questions which one would never ask in a training session before the assembled team, in order not to give any nonsense.

In addition, the digital media competency can be improved individually and punctually. Any technology blockages, often based on uncertainty, can be solved, the fear of change can be reduced, fixed ideas can be relaxed and generational prejudices can be eliminated. The mentee can benefit from the unconcerned perception of the young colleagues and gain new perspectives. After all, it can also be about how the Millennials are to be managed, in order to optimize their own leadership competence.

Reverse mentoring as a cultivator

The classic mentoring arises from the old top-down thinking. It implies an unequal patron-protege ratio, and the mentees are also often called there. Reverse mentoring, on the other hand, corresponds to the sharing approach of giving and taking, which ultimately benefits both sides.

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In the ideal case, a tandem pair can coach each other, so they can learn from each other and learn from each other at the same time. Young knowledge and valuable management experience will be exchanged. Such changes in perspective sharpen the view for alternative solution models, broaden the horizon and provide new approaches.

Tap on collective knowledge

Collective knowledge is tapped, enriched, professionalized and generously extended. In this respect, reverse mentoring is an excellent tool for building a learning organization. It uses existing knowledge, no matter where it comes from, to get fit for the future. Quite apart from this, it is a very cost-effective form of voluntary employee development.

“Reverse mentoring is about passing on knowledge and experience in a company hierarchy from bottom to top,” Michael Heuser confirms Professor for international management at the University of Applied Sciences in Paderborn. "It is not just individuals who learn, but the organization as a whole."

Build a learning organization

In addition, mutual understanding is promoted. Just as it is not easy for the “old” to think into the young world, it is sometimes difficult for the juniors to understand why the seniors tick the way they do. “Youngsters” tend to tend to do everything differently, quasi constantly reinvent the wheel and simply ignore the useful “old wisdom”.

A lack of appreciation for the life's work of previous generations often leads to incomprehension and conflict. However, the young professionals are extremely willing to learn. They are also very interested in classic mentoring. Over two thirds could imagine support from a mentor. Two out of ten millennials even explicitly request this, Monster's “World of Work” study found.

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  1. Conclusion: blog parade “Mentoring in Germany 2017” - Die Karrieremacher

    [...] Anne M. Schüller has dealt with reverse mentoring as an instrument for the development of a learning organization. In reverse mentoring, an older mentee learns from a younger mentor - and thus ensures that older employees can enjoy their profession at the highest level for as long as possible. [...]

  2. Thomas Zimmerling

    Thank you for submitting to our blog parade “Mentoring in Germany 2017”. The thought of creating a learning organization with reverse mentoring - but from the bottom up - is very fruitful and hopefully will find more imitators.

  3. Anne M. Schüller

    #ReverseMentoring & #LernendeOrganisation: When the junior "coaches" the senior - Highly recommended aPlzCDeDry via @ berufebilder

  4. Siggi willow

    Guenther Eufinger - In addition to yesterday's workshop: A trend and future topic * learning organization *.


    Reverse Mentoring & Learning Organization: When the junior “coaches” the senior from
    Anne M. ... via @ berufebilder
    - Highly recommended Eojh1ffg6K

  6. Thomas Eggert

    Reverse Mentoring & Learning Organization: When the junior “coaches” the senior from
    Anne M. ... via @ berufebilder
    - Highly recommended WHptvXydEy

  7. Job college

    Reverse mentoring & learning organization: When the junior "coaches" Anne M. Schüller's senior ... - Highly recommended D87GJjL6It

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