Ninety-four percent of employees say they would stay longer with their organization if their employer gave them opportunities to learn and grow, according to LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report. And as so many of us know, mentorship often plays a critical role in that growth.
We often think of mentorship as an older, more seasoned professional guiding a younger, less experienced professional. But that doesn’t always have to be the case.
In April 2022, Land O’ Lakes began the second round of its highly successful Reverse Mentorship Program. The program capitalizes on the idea that “intergenerational discussions are key for both newer-in-their career employees and more senior employees.” A newer employee is paired with a senior employee and guides discussions about personal and career growth.
“I was appreciative of the fact that Land O’Lakes recognizes talent and leaders within the younger generations and is attempting to learn how to best communicate with, and retain, that talent,” said Kristi Sollman, Forage Genetics International Senior Sales Manager, who was a mentor to Jamie Kinnear, Animal Nutrition Marketing Director. “I was also excited for the opportunity to have an open and safe dialogue with senior leaders within Land O’Lakes and hear about their professional journeys on how they got to where they are now.
The idea of reverse mentorship is that newer professionals can share their insights and talents with more experienced professionals, who may benefit from their knowledge of the latest workplace technologies and practices, for instance.
Fostering intergenerational connections within the workplace helps create a sense of community, making employees feel like they have a support system within the organization. This is especially important now, during the Great Resignation, when so many people are leaving their jobs. People want to feel like they belong and that their employers value them. By asking employees to share their wisdom and expertise, employers are demonstrating that they respect and appreciate their workers.
No individual is ever done growing. Reverse mentorship reminds people that they are always learning and evolving, personally and professionally. Older and younger people can learn from one another, no matter what their age or stage in their career. There will always be new tools, ideas, concepts, skills to master, perspectives, and ways of thinking — and recognizing and embracing this is critical.
Reverse mentorship promotes and supports DEI efforts, too. First, people with different backgrounds and perspectives are paired together and can learn from one another, as well as discover different experiences — ones they may not have had exposure to in the past. This helps foster sensitivity.
Additionally, the whole idea of reverse mentorship is that everyone can bring value to their organization and their relationships with their colleagues, no matter what their gender identity, ethnicity, nationality, age, abilities, and so on.
Reverse mentorship clearly brings a number of benefits to employees of all backgrounds and identities and employers alike. Is it time to implement a program at your organization?
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.