Where is your millennial mentor?
Having a millennial mentor can help you understand technology, social media, the importance of diversity and how disruptive their young minds can be, says LSCA Business Board member Vincenzo Leporiere.
The concept of “reverse mentoring” is certainly not a new one. It gathered pace over the last 25 years or so, driven by the advent of new technologies and it has historically mostly been associated with the (very loosely-defined) tech industry.
This is an environment where the benefits of reverse mentoring are perhaps easier to identify, however senior executives across all industries would benefit from being mentored by up-and-coming, less experienced employees. While at first the idea of being mentored by a 20-something year old wearing trainers may make you feel like Boris Johnson being sent to diversity training, there are a number of benefits for you as well as for your organisation as a whole.
Firstly, and perhaps not surprisingly, they can bring you up to speed on topics such as technology, social media and latest trends. This is not so you can create your own Snapchat account or pay for your soya latte in Bitcoin. They can help you get a better understanding of what is becoming the largest cohort of the population (the Millennial generation is already bigger than the Baby Boomers in the US) and arguably one of the hardest market segments to crack – who are they, what they like, how they communicate with your business.
Linked to that is their disruptive power. Let’s pick a topic closer to home: audit. This is not the tech-savvy kid who can build a macro in Excel. You may not know that one of the juniors in the team can now use machine learning software to do the same job it used to take you a week to carry out. That’s exciting, but equally scary as you don’t understand how it all works and if it can be trusted: would you be comfortable explaining that to the client? Would you demand they stick to ‘traditional’ and ‘approved’ methods? Or would you get stuck in and understand the potential to your organisation?
From audit to banking: new forms of finance are already disrupting the established system. Senior executives in banking are investing millions to make sure their business model doesn’t become redundant overnight and evolves with these trends. Could they see the world from a different point of view by being mentored by a young recruit who has never set foot in a high street branch?
Finally, reverse mentoring can support diversity and inclusion in your organisation. It’s hard to imagine, but think of a stereotypical ‘male, pale and stale’ partner being mentored by an associate from a completely different background.
Aside from the innovative approach to new technologies and ideas discussed above, reverse mentoring can give the partner better insights into the challenges faced by a young worker, perhaps from a disadvantaged background, or a female employee returning from maternity leave. It would help organisations to tap into these huge resources by understanding different perspectives and putting in place initiatives to support the workforce accordingly.
So, where’s your millennial mentor?
Vincenzo Leporiere is member of the LSCA Business Board
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