Friday September 5th marked Teachers’ Day in India. It is a day when we celebrate the joy of having wonderful teachers & mentors, and express our gratitude to them.
As the day drew to a close and I was driving home for the weekend, I found myself asking the question – who did I learn from most during the last 12 months? Who were my best teachers? And the more I thought about it, it began to dawn on me that it wasn’t my clients or my bosses, not even my peers but a group of 20 somethings that had joined my group – they were my “millennial gurus”. This group was at ease with technology (it was virtually 2nd nature to them), networked very well through their social media connects – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, et al. Had an air of super confidence about them and a different attitude to work & work-culture, extremely enthusiastic and brimming with energy – a can do and will do mindset.
Consciously or sub-consciously, there was latent learning occurring within our group. And with the passage of every week, me and my team were becoming very dependent on our millennial team, not because they were a great set of doers, willing to respond to anything that was thrown at them or was asked of them, but because they were doing things smarter – leveraging technology, social media and taking a new and refreshing approach to the things we do at work.My experiences over the last several months have taught me that there is a lot to learn from the millennial gurus, if one cares to do so. It is a shame if I missed the opportunity to do so. So I decided it was time for me to be reverse mentored by the millennial gurus at work.
The more I thought about reverse mentoring and what it will take to make it a success with me, I soon realized that there were five critical things that I need to enforce more with myself than anybody to make a success of this experimentation
- I needed to pick an area that I am keen to learn and be mentored on, where my mentor is more knowledgeable than me, keen to teach and share her/his knowledge
- Make the young mentor feel at ease with the mentoring process
- Have a degree of formality to the reverse mentoring process, but do not overdo it that it kills the fun and joy of the learning process
- Keep the interaction away from the office environment, if possible
- Enlist an independent observer to help kick start and monitor the process
While all this helps us to be reverse mentored, don’t give up your role of making sure that the youngsters we induct stay hungry and stay humble, while reverse mentoring their seniors. Not everyone will have the right balance to do this well. I have decided to go back to school in the company of these millennial gurus and be reverse mentored.
Any other takers?