Reverse Mentoring : What Project Managers Can Learn From It

reverse mentoring

Written By Andrew Makar

Professional Cat Herder and an Agile Enthusiast with a keen interest in putting PM theory into actual practice.

It is often a common perception, “The older you grow, the more experienced you become and the less you need to learn.” The global workplace culture is no exception to that.

The first image that comes to our mind when we hear the word “mentor” is that of an experienced and senior employee guiding a younger counterpart. This is how conventional mentoring works.

However, this dynamic is witnessing a paradigm shift, leading to a rise in the popularity of a new form, i.e., reverse mentoring. This format is gaining widespread acceptance in the field of project management due to the numerous benefits it provides.

This article walks you through how it benefits project managers.

But before going any further, let’s first understand:

What is reverse mentoring?

Practicing this setup is beneficial for companies with a cross-generation workforce as it helps them merge the experience of seasoned employees with fresh perspectives of the younger generations.

it also enables firms to develop an all-inclusive, innovative, and collaborative work environment, increasing overall productivity and profitability.

The following section explains how reverse mentoring can benefit project managers,

What can project managers learn from reverse mentoring?

Reverse mentoring offers myriad benefits to both the seasoned workforce, i.e., project managers, team leads, etc., and junior employees in different ways.

Below we have enlisted the most pertinent ones,

  1. Application of modern software in the project management landscape

The new generation of employees, millennials and Gen Z, belong to the technology-driven era, and thus, are more tech-savvy. Project managers can leverage their knowledge about the next-gen tech, such as project management software, collaboration tools, and others, to manage projects seamlessly.

They can learn the nitty-gritty of its features, how to customize it, and ultimately enhance work efficiency.

  1. Promote inclusion and drive cultural change
  1. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of millennial mentors

While senior-level mentees or project managers can learn from mentors, they can also assess these millennial mentors on their leadership or management skills. They can determine the strengths and weaknesses of millennial mentors and identify the areas of improvement. For example, let’s say that a young mentor is equipped with a good level of knowledge about a technology but lacks the confidence to present it.

In this case, the senior mentee can suggest some practical tips to develop confidence and present the information effectively. Thus, reverse mentoring is a feasible practice to prepare the freshers or the new generations to learn and level up their aptitude to acquire future leadership roles.

  1. Embrace and propel change

Evolution is the key to sustaining your business and maintaining the competitive edge amid the fierce global competition today. Continuous change and shift in project management processes and practices will facilitate managers to meet the evolving demand and improve project delivery. However, it is a human tendency to show initial resistance to any type of change unless required.

Effective reverse mentoring helps reduce this inertia and make an organization more flexible and adaptable to changes in strategies, processes, technology, etc. These changes enable a company to future-proof itself against the rapidly changing and evolving business landscape.

  1. Encourage collaboration and problem-solving

When employees from different age groups, experience levels and walks of life interact, it helps break down silos between them. Thus, they start understanding each other’s viewpoints and learn to respect them. Therefore, reverse mentoring is a great way to strengthen the bonding between employees and enhance collaboration and cohesiveness.

Further, the millennials bring fresh, diverse, and innovative perspectives to the table. As a result, it helps project managers look at a problem from a broader and diverse perspective and brainstorm more ways to solve it, thereby increasing the team’s overall problem-solving capability.

The takeaway tips: How to design a foolproof reverse mentoring program?

A reverse mentoring program must be effective enough to serve its true purpose and benefit an organization.

Listed below are some tips you can follow to design a foolproof reverse mentoring program for your enterprise.

  1. Make sure the pairing provides mutual benefits

The aim of pairing two employees for reverse mentoring is to benefit them both. It implies that while the older employee should get to learn something new, the younger one should get the opportunity to hone leadership skills. Thus, the decision-makers must ensure that they pair the right individuals who can mutually benefit each other.

  1. Establish a framework and time frame for the program

Forming a framework that defines the program’s structure, goals, start date, and   It helps both mentors and mentees to align their efforts with the final goals of the program.

  1. Always take a follow-up

Every reverse mentoring program needs timely follow-ups to gauge its progress, identify challenges, if any, and work out ways to eliminate them. So, managers must take individual feedback from mentors and mentees, understand if they face any hiccups, and implement changes accordingly.

Conclusion

A reverse mentorship program is an excellent way to bridge the gaps between individuals from different age groups, break cultural or racial stereotypes, transform senior-junior relations, and enhance collaboration.

Author’s Bio

Mahendra Gupta is PMP certified with 20+ years of expertise in resource management & workforce planning. He is presently working as Project Consultant at Saviom Software, where his experience has enabled multinational businesses around the globe to diversify their project portfolio.

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