Formal mentoring programs are increasingly popular within many organisations. Typically these programs match promising junior staff with senior executives with the aim of imparting some wisdom from the top down. As this is the most common format you might like to think of these programs as, “right side up”. But there are other ways to get significant uplift from mentoring.
- Upside Down (or Reverse Mentoring) – where, for instance, younger Gen Y staff mentor senior executives on the finer points of social media. Generational change is becoming faster and more disorienting than ever before, so a mountain of gold sits with the useful knowledge that younger people can share.
- Outside In – mentoring provided by recent retirees. A veritable tidal wave of older staff will be retiring in the near future and in many cases it would be both a travesty and poor business practice to let the entire knowledge bank just walk out the door. Many retirees actively seek ways to remain active, and contributing members of society, so why not give wisdom its due and make use of them?
- Inside Out – once an organisation has developed a core of experienced mentors (mentoring is most definitely a skill that needs to be learned) why not give back to the broader community by offering to mentor staff at a charity or non-profit? This will give the mentors a great feel-good experience but it will also broaden horizons and increase the business’ overall sense of community engagement.
It’s great that so many companies are realising the benefits that a well-run mentoring program can bring. The next step may well be to think a little bigger and wider.