We sat down with one of the world's leading experts on radical innovation and leadership, Peter Hinssen. During his interview, we asked him what one piece of advice he would give to today's business leaders. His response? Reverse mentoring.
What are the benefits of flipping the organization upside down? Find out why your organization should implement reverse mentoring and the benefits it has had on industry-leading companies, according to Peter Hinssen, serial entrepreneur, advisor, keynote speaker and author.
Hinssen is one of the most sought-after thought leaders on radical innovation, leadership and the impact of all things digital on society and business.
The concept became popular after the former CEO of General Electric (GE), Jack Welch, paired 500 senior and junior employees in hopes they could learn from each other.
This was in 1999, and in the years since, many companies and industry leaders have developed their own reverse mentoring programs. The programs vary, but they all share one common approach: coordinating shared learning between colleagues of diverse backgrounds to create corporate learning.
"They are closer to the future than you will ever be in your entire life." Peter Hinssen shares his thoughts on reverse mentoring.
1. Maintain a competitive advantage
Keeping up with the shifts in technology is oftentimes discouraging for organizations. “To maximize the potential value of these technologies,” reports Deloitte, “organizations must put humans in the loop—reconstructing work, retraining people, and rearranging the organization.”
Businesses that wish to maintain or improve their competitive advantage must embrace collaboration. Reverse mentoring and sharing ideas encourages organizations to envision new possibilities for success.
2. Increase millennial retention
Millennials are now the largest generation in the labor force, 43% of the demographic group plan to leave their job in the next two years. According to the data, companies are struggling to engage millennial employees.
For example, Pershing is a financial services company that recently implemented a reverse mentoring program. Following implementation of the company-wide initiative, Pershing experienced a 96% retention rate for the 77 millennials who were involved.
Turning the organization upside down allows for millennials to act as mentors, which has resulted in positive outcomes. Why? Because it lead to millennial employees feeling valued for their contributions and confident that their investment in the company will be matched by the company’s investment in their future.
3. Improve inclusion and diversity
A recent Forbes study found that 85% of senior executives believe diverse and inclusive workforce are “crucial” to innovation. Reverse mentoring can act as a bridge that connects diversity in age, gender and ethnicity.
An example of this was demonstrated by law firm Shook Hardy & Bacon, where minority lawyers and senior leaders met to learn about each other’s challenges and had “difficult conversations on diversity.”
By pairing leaders with employees from different backgrounds, both are able to develop more empathy and have a better understanding of how to treat their colleagues.
"Now there are bright, young people joining companies every day and they are an amazing lens into the future. They’re closer to the future than you will ever be in your entire life." - Peter Hinssen
Reverse mentoring can have a huge impact on the entire organisation. Millennials can gain valuable insight and knowledge that comes from their counterparts’ decades of business experience, while the seasoned leaders absorb a lot of information about new technology, the latest best practices and fresh techniques for doing things.
This helps both parties be more productive individually and helps to strengthen the relationships between them to create solid teamwork.