Best Practices for Your Reverse Mentoring Program

A reverse mentoring relationship is one in which the traditional roles of mentoring are reversed. A junior level employee is selected as the mentor, while a senior level executive takes on the mentee role. This type of relationship is created to help your executives become more familiar with topics such as technology, social media, and current trends. 

Reverse mentoring provides the opportunity for a mutually beneficially relationship. Your executives stay abreast of trends that are most important to the industry, while your junior employees become more engaged through contributing to the improvement of your organization. 

A reverse mentoring program can bring many benefits to your organization. However, achieving these benefits is contingent on your program’s success. 

Best Practices for Your Reverse Mentoring Program

As with any business initiative, simply implementing a reverse mentoring program does not guarantee that it will be a success.  We recommend that you consider the following best practices to increase the likelihood of program success. 

1. Define Your Expectations. It’s important that you are not only clear about the purpose of the program, but also about what your participants can expect from it. Having realistic expectations will help your participants set goals. For example, if your mentors know that being part of the program does not guarantee a promotion, they will utilize the relationship to achieve realistic goals. 

2. Set Goals. Goals should be set by your organization and each participant.

Organization goals are those you are hoping to achieve throughout the entirety of the program. These goals should coincide with your business objectives and will be determined by your stakeholders. Organizational goals include:

  • Promote a more diverse and inclusive culture
  • Build a strong succession pipeline
  • Increase organization-wide knowledge sharing
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Boost employee retention rates

Each participant should set goals based on their individual career development needs and their current journey down their career path.  Participant goals include:

  • Develop leadership skills
  • Enhance communication skills
  • Expand professional networks
  • Become more ingrained in the company culture

Along with these goals, you should set metrics for success. This will help to determine if goals have been reached and to what extent. This information is crucial in recognizing the overall success of your reverse mentoring program.

3. Define Your Matching Criteria.  Creating successful matches is crucial to the success of your program. Keep in mind that your mentors and mentees are entering into a non-traditional relationship. That means that the criteria that you have used in the past will not work for this program.  

Traditionally, mentoring matches are made based on the job skills and knowledge that participants have. While these criteria are important, interpersonal skills must be a top priority when matching for a reverse mentoring relationship. This is because participants will face challenges that are not present in traditional mentoring. They must be able to successfully work through those challenges with their partner. 

4. Train Your Mentors and Mentees. Keep in mind that your participants are going to be put into roles that may be uncomfortable for them. It’s important that you provide training, so they have a clear understanding of their roles and what they need to do to be successful. When training your participants be sure to include the following tips:

  • Be willing to learn. The mentor must be willing to learn how to be an asset in the relationship, while the mentee must be willing to learn how to take direction and advice.
  • Leave your comfort zone. It is important for everyone to leave their comfort zone and be open-minded about how to move forward in the relationship.
  • Be transparent. Everyone must be transparent throughout the process. This transparency will help them to effectively address any challenges that they may face. It will also increase their willingness to give and receive feedback.
  • Commit to the relationship. Commitment should be a top priority for anyone involved in a reverse mentoring relationship. 

5. Monitor Your Program Success. Simply measuring for success at the end of your program will not work for reverse mentoring. You must actively monitor your participants and the overall success of your program from day one. This will allow you to make changes to your program as challenges arise. 

Investing in mentoring software is a great way to actively monitor your program. This software will give you the tools to:

  • Track your participants’ goals
  • Send surveys and polls to gather participant feedback
  • House relevant resources for participant to access
  • Create reports to analyze program data

At Insala, our more than 20 years of experience has enabled us to design and develop mentoring software that meets the direct needs of our clients. Your organization’s unique objectives will be implemented in a way that your goals can be achieved. Insala’s mentoring software, coupled with experience in delivering mentoring advice, helps you to design and implement a successful mentoring program. Request a Demo to learn how mentoring software can benefit your organization.
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