Reverse mentoring involves typically more junior individuals with high levels of knowledge mentoring more senior individuals in relation to certain topics including: IT, social media, culture, LGBT, disability, ethnicity and mental health.

Summary by The World of Work Project


Reverse Mentoring In Work

Mentoring typically involves a more senior and experienced individual sharing their advice and guidance with a more junior individual. Reverse mentoring, however, involves more junior people mentoring more senior people in relation to specific areas in which the more junior individual is more knowledgeable and experienced.

Reverse-mentoring areas of focus could include information technology, social media, culture and community or diversity strands such as LGBT, Disability, Ethnicity or Mental health.

Diagram showing skills and knowledge in reverse mentoring in work

Things to look for in a Reverse Mentor

Reverse mentoring in work can be highly effective. That said, it’s very important to identify the right people to be reverse mentored by. Many individuals will want to take on the role, but not all of them will be well suited to it. When considering a reverse mentor it’s worth reflecting on the following traits:

Perhaps she’d be a good ice skating reverse mentor…

  • Experience & knowledge: Good reverse mentors know more than you about their specialist area
  • Honesty & integrity: Good reverse mentors demonstrate integrity in their actions and will be honest with you
  • Passion: Good reverse mentors are passionate about their specialist area
  • Motivation: Good reverse mentors are motivated by improving your organization, not simple personal gain
  • Chemistry & trust: Good reverse mentors will be people who you can trust and get along with
  • Courage: Good reverse mentors will have the courage to challenge and tell you the things you need to hear
  • Communication: Good reverse mentors are patient in their communication and will help you learn from the beginning
  • Role-model: Good reverse mentors are role-models in relation to their specialist area
  • Positive: Good reverse mentors see opportunities bring positivity to your interactions

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Learning More

Reverse mentoring in work often helps leaders learn more about the various diversity strands in their organizations. You can learn more about these topics through our podcasts on diversity and inclusion.

Coaching is something else you might consider learning more about. It can be a powerful tool for helping people develop and achieve their goals.

Coaching is also a hugely helpful skill for leaders and managers in the world of work. It’s a great way to help team members develop or for behavior change. It’s particularly when combined with feedback and reinforcement. You can learn more about how to coach and the benefits of coaching in this podcast.

The World of Work Project View

Reverse mentoring in work can be a great way for senior leaders to learn about new areas from which they are otherwise removed.

It can be particularly helpful with cultural and people related areas such as the diversity strands.

Reverse mentoring is also an excellent way for leaders to get closer to their target customer base.

While we do recommend reverse mentoring where possible, we note the same caveats that exist with regular mentoring. It’s not just enough to speak to someone, it’s important to get a good match. Reverse mentors should bring something interesting to the conversation and some chemistry of connection as, if they don’t, senior leaders will feel that reverse mentoring is a waste of their time and will disengage from it.

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This post on reverse mentoring in work is based on our own experiences in the workplace. It does not reference any specific sources.

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