Learning is a progressive facet of life, neither bound nor stifled by physical circumstance or an individual’s intrinsic make-up including their age. Without the opportunity to learn and develop, particularly within a business environment, the process of working can remain stagnant and employees and their respective employers can be left behind in the proverbial dust of their competitors.
Traditionally, when we think about teaching or mentoring in the workplace, we conjure up the image of a more experienced or mature member of the team, guiding their younger, slightly less knowledgeable counterparts in the inner workings of the business. While this image still stands the test of time today, the advancements in technology and social media, which have shaped the way businesses run today, has given rise to a new set of mentors in the workplace. Reverse mentoring, utilises the tech savvy nature of millennials, by way of enabling them to pass on the skills they have developed naturally as digital natives to mature colleagues who would like to understand how this generation ticks.
While some employees may refute the benefits of learning from the millennial generation, as they may be perceived as being green in terms of business acumen, there is value for both parties involved when collaboration between generations is achieved. For the younger generation just beginning their journey on the career ladder, their vigour and enthusiasm to put their mark on the world, alongside their understanding of their generation, makes them a valuable asset for any organisation. On a similar note however, the generation before them hold the key to how business has evolved, an in-depth knowledge of their craft and experience, which can be passed onto tomorrow’s business leaders.
Technology is showing no signs of slowing down; in fact it is setting a precedent for how business will be shaped in the years to come. With this in mind, reverse mentoring should become more than just a concept, but an integral part of a business’s organisational culture. Encouraging all employees to become accustomed to how digital and social technology is moulding and shaping business will make for a more cohesive unit, who will not only work better together, but also provide a more efficient and productive service to clients and/or customers.
It is important to remember that mentoring regardless of who is the mentor or the mentee is a pivotal part of any work environment. We should never stop learning, as without learning complacency can set in and mistakes may be made. By encouraging a symbiotic mentoring relationship and bridging any psychological gap between younger and older generations of employees, employers will be creating a workforce that will be more likely to stand the test of time and be fruitful for the business in the process.
Alan Price is employment law director of Peninsula.