Millennials should ‘reverse-mentor’ senior colleagues, research says

by Lucy Hook22 Jul 2016
Gen Y employees, or millennials, should be ‘reverse-mentoring’ senior colleagues as part of HR’s efforts to promote cross-generational communication, research has suggested.

The whitepaper by Cegos Asia Pacific looked at the impact of younger generations of employees on workplaces, and what can be done to combat the challenges of blending generations at work.

With 78% of those surveyed agreeing that a new approach to corporate learning and development is needed to engage the newer generations in the workplace, the paper suggested several ways of integrating the groups.

One suggestion was to utilise the tech-savvy millennial generation to mentor ‘up-the-line’ – sharing their skills and knowledge with more senior or experienced colleagues.

“A more formalised approach to this reverse-mentoring idea is bringing people from the younger populations in the organisation into the boardroom, so that they can do a bit of mentoring with the senior team. For example, [they can teach them] about some new technologies or about how people are communicating using tools other than email,” Jeremy Blain, regional managing director of Cegos Asia Pacific told HRD.

Citibank are an example of a company pioneering a programme that turns mentoring on its head.

Kicking off in 2013, Citibank brought in students from the University of Miami School of Business and Administration to school senior execs on social media and digital technologies.

Looking ahead to the influx of Gen Z employees, who are beginning to trickle into the workplace, Blain told HRD that organisations are often ill-informed on younger generations’ expectations.

 “Often people that we talk to in organisations, particularly at leader and manager levels, think that Gen Y are just going to want ‘technology, technology, technology’,” Blain said.

“But they’re now under a massive misapprehension of what’s going on. They’ve got to get out there and find out a bit more. Get out of your ivory tower and start looking at what’s happening on the ground and what’s going to happen in the future,” he said.

“When was the last time your leaders and managers interviewed any of your Gen Y population or went to higher education and interviewed some Gen Z people to understand what they want from the workplace and what their aspirations are?”

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