Reverse mentoring is no modern concept
The concept of mentoring derives from Greek Mythology, where King Ulysses trusted the guardianship of his son, Telemachus, to mentor – his servant, who held a wider role of tutor, counsellor and guide.
Mentoring in organisations is usually the province of those older and wiser who are willing to take an interest in an individual, support them in their long-term development and help them navigate their way through the complexities of organisational life.
But what if that position was reversed and the older, long-serving individual is actively mentored by someone younger? This ‘reverse’ mentor could provide a different kind of wisdom and a new perspective on the company and its culture. Turning the mentoring relationship on its head can be revolutionary for everyone involved.
That is exactly my experience. A long-standing senior consultant and member of the senior management team at Roffey Park Institute, I embraced the opportunity to be mentored by one of our rising stars, an individual with bags of insight and confidence.
At Roffey Park our research into talent and the generations has uncovered useful insights into what motivates different generations at work. As a classic baby boomer, my working style is characterised by strong loyalty to the organisation, respect for authority and hierarchy, and concern for the common good. My Generation X mentor values pace-setting approaches and a willingness to experiment and has a more cautious respect for authority. Through the mentoring relationship we explored these drivers and goals together to understand the differences between our attitudes to work and career.