Why you should start thinking about reverse mentoring

Mentoring has traditionally been a matter of the older and experienced generation teaching the young. But there's lot for leadership in trying it in reverse

Cambell Holt is not the first marketer to concede there is a lot in his professional realm he doesn’t fully understand. But what does make Mercer’s chief customer officer different to many of his peers is who he turns to when filling in those gaps.

“Young people at the beginning of their career often have an enormous amount to offer people who are at the later stages of their career,” Holt says. “Most questions I have today are answerable by people younger than me with less career experience, but with more direct experience with some of the burning questions I have.”

Holt’s desire to tap into the wisdom of his younger colleagues has led him to become an advocate for reverse mentoring. Whereas most mentor relationships see an older colleague bestowing professional advice upon younger ones, reverse mentoring – as its name suggests – switches the flow. Unlike traditional mentoring, these engagements are normally brief in nature – perhaps consisting of four to six sessions – and usually focus on answering a specific question.

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