I first started talking about reverse mentoring in 2007, when I did a presentation to Campbell Soup global leadership about the Millennial generation. The company went on to develop a so-termed “bridge network” to connect promising young professionals with entrenched Baby Boomer executives.
Reverse mentoring is loosely defined as the process of a less experienced employee offering guidance to a more experienced one. It often includes a relationship that works both ways: seasoned employees can offer advice on how to build a successful career, while newbies can provide a fresh perspective on organizational processes and innovation – especially where it involves evolving technology.
Although currently gaining steam, this is not a new concept. According to the Wall Street Journal, it was initially championed by Jack Welch in the late 90s when he was CEO of General Electric. He ordered 500 top-level executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet. In return, the younger professionals achieved greater visibility in the company.
If reverse mentoring sounds intriguing to you but there isn’t an established program in your company, check out my post on the Fast Track blog for advice on how to implement it.