Lesson 1. What are the differences between a mentoring programme and a reverse mentoring programme?
Article: It’s time to get rid of reverse mentoring
In a culture where continuous, on-the-job learning for all ages is encouraged, the term ‘reverse mentoring’ is archaic and potentially damaging. But why exactly is this the case?
With a multigenerational workforce being the norm nowadays, does the term ‘reverse mentoring’ have a place within it? The first article mentioned above talks about “the alliance between juniors and seniors” – should we not already be working in alliance?
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In organisational contexts, the concept of reverse mentoring was promoted by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, who in 1999 turned the company upside down by putting, as he said, “the young and talented teaching the old”, thus creating one of the first reverse mentoring programmes. In this sense, and in an organisational context, the term reverse mentoring refers to mentoring practices where an employee considered junior mentors and supports a senior employee.
In the suggested article, Charles Deakins points out that the term “reverse mentoring” is archaic and should not be in use, arguing also that it contradicts the goal and challenge of promoting increasingly multigenerational and inclusive workplaces. The idea implicit in the concept of reverse mentoring may even, if misused, result in potential cases of age discrimination. The author proposes to simply use the term “mentoring”, which describes a learning relationship involving two people. This notion is further reinforced with the term “people-related initiatives” to foster mutual engagement and learning in the workplace. A task which, according to the author, is the responsibility of any human resources department.
In practice, reverse mentoring uses the same principles and processes as any formal mentoring relationship. The major difference to traditional mentoring is that due to his/her age the mentor might not be considered to have enough experience to be a mentor. So, why are we including this reverse mentoring concept together with the concept of senior entrepreneurship? The following article might help you get thinking about a possible answer.