Reverse Mentoring-The Gift of Junior Staff

Karima-Goundiam and reverse mentoringThis post is by guest blogger, Karima-Catherine Goundiam, manager, Social Media and Online Communities | Online Marketing Please at Deloitte Canada. Please join us to explore Reverse Mentoring with Karima-Catherine Goundiam this Friday, June 8, at 12pm ET/5pm GMT/9am PT on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz

I am very honoured and excited to be a guest on #KaizenBiz this coming Friday. I have been part of the chat for a few years and I am happy I can contribute to this amazing community of professionals now.  When I suggested to Elli the topic of “reverse mentoring”, she bought in right away and thought it was both intriguing and interesting to explore it on the #KaizenBiz chat.

What is Reverse Mentoring?

Reverse mentoring is a term that I came across while working at Deloitte as a digital and social media manager.  The term reverse mentoring essentially means the opposite of traditional mentoring, because the relationship is reversed.  In the context of digital, reverse mentoring is when a senior employee enlists the insight and knowledge of a more junior employee – where age is not part of the criteria.

Sometimes organic, sometimes formalized

The relationship between the mentor and mentee can develop as an organic relationship where the senior leader recognizes that his/her junior is a step ahead in a specific area. In other case, more often, reverse mentoring will be part of a formalized program.  I will address the value and some of the challenges of one or the other type of relationship at #KaizenBiz.

 Flattens the organization and foster collaboration and innovation

As an organization, encouraging any type of reverse mentoring can be one of the best ways to flatten the organization and foster an environment of collaboration and innovation.  In particular, digital reverse mentoring is essential for a company to grow beyond its current corporate online persona and reach its full potential through the adoption of digital and social media. It creates the perfect opportunity for senior leaders to gain insights into new areas such as social media, interactive marketing, and virtual communities and understand how it ties to business objectives.

Benefits of the reverse mentoring relationship

The pairing of senior leaders with more junior employees is beneficial for both parties; giving both the mentor and the mentee a sense of purpose and a mutual benefit.   While reverse mentoring will also focus on the tools, the most valuable information will come from the importance of building business relationships online.  The digital mentor will accompany his/her mentee through the many necessary phases of digital media adoption that the individual needs.

 Does the reversal of mentor/mentee create obstacles?

Mentoring does however have its challenges. Reverse mentoring, in particular, has greater challenges due to the fact that the typical relationship is reversed with age and position level. The junior staff will be exposing the experienced senior leaders to new areas – especially areas that are still trying to make headway within organizations. I will discuss challenges and ways I have been able to go around them at #KaizenBiz.

 Join us to learn more…

Throughout my career, I have mentored a fair number of senior leaders; some of them employees of Deloitte.  At #KaizenBiz, on Friday, I will have the opportunity to discuss some of the characteristics that foster a successful reverse mentoring relationship and more. I am looking forward to your questions.

What usually begins a reverse mentoring relationship?

Is there a particular age spread that is most ideal for the junior staff person and the senior leader? Why/why not?

What characteristics of the junior staff person make  him/her ideal as a mentor?

Is reverse mentoring really about the senior leaders engaging with social media, interactive marketing, and virtual communities more successfully? Why/Why not?

How are the potential obstacles that could derail a reverse mentoring relationship managed?

How is the organization affected when reverse mentoring is a formalized program?

How would you describe the future of reverse mentoring?

About the author:  Karima-Catherine joined Deloitte’s online team in July 2011 as Social media and online communities manager within the Brand team. She heads up the social media efforts for Deloitte Canada and is responsible for internal and external adoption of social media strategy.