Reverse Mentoring Cracks Workplace

29. November 2011

Date: 28-11-2011
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Top Managers Get Advice on Social Media, Workplace Issues From Young Workers

Workplace mentors used to be older and higher up the ranks than their mentees. Not anymore.

In an effort to school senior executives in technology, social media and the latest workplace trends, many businesses are pairing upper management with younger employees in a practice known as reverse mentoring. The trend is taking off at a range of companies, from tech to advertising.

Mentors are teaching their mentees about Facebook and Twitter.

The idea is that managers can learn a thing or two about life outside the corner office. But companies say another outcome is reduced turnover among younger employees, who not only gain a sense of purpose but also a rare glimpse into the world of management and access to top-level brass.

Reverse mentoring was championed by Jack Welch when he was chief executive of General Electric Co. He ordered 500 top-level executives to reach out to people below them to learn how to use the Internet. Mr. Welch himself was matched with an employee in her 20s who taught him how to surf the Web. The younger mentors “got visibility,” he says.

Fast forward a decade and mentors are teaching their mentees about Facebook and Twitter. Read the rest of this entry »