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Our CHRO, Sirmara Campbell, sat down with SHRM to discuss what reverse mentoring is and why it’s essential for fostering a great company culture. Here are a few highlights from her interview:   

Why do companies practice reverse mentoring?  

Reverse mentoring is just another format of training and development that is accessible and cost-effective. It also is a great way to bridge any generational gaps in the workplace and build camaraderie amongst employees.  

What business challenge or objective does the program address  

It expedites the learning curve new and existing employees may face. Whether it’s a more senior professional trying to better understand the new digital landscape or various software, or a Gen Z or millennial developing as a leader and needing to learn those skills. By utilizing reverse mentoring, companies can use internal resources to address the skills gap various generations face.   

How are pairs normally created, is it more organically?  

It can be both, organically or via a formal program. It really depends on the organization. There isn’t a correct way to do it or a one-size-fits-all approach.   

How can reverse mentoring fit in with a company’s larger culture?  

It’s a great way to bridge any generational gaps within a workplace. When you have different generations learning from one another, it builds camaraderie and connections between two employees who, depending on the culture, may not have interacted otherwise. It fosters cross-collaboration across teams, generations and job functions. There is a true bond built when employees are vulnerable with one another, admitting that they don’t know something, and asking for help to learn and grow. When employees can put egos aside and learn from one another, it builds a stronger culture.   

Are some people reluctant to participate and, if so, why?  

Regardless of how great a company culture is, you will always have one or two eye-rollers, people who bash or scoff at the traditions and rituals. Same goes for reverse mentoring. Egos can easily get in the way, generation aside.  

Should companies have metrics to measure outcomes/success  

This again depends on the organization and how the program is viewed. If it’s categorized as a formal training program, similar metrics could be applied as any other training initiative; however, if it’s treated as an organic mentorship, and/or something that can positively impact the culture, it’s hard to measure that with tangible metrics. It’s important to gauge how it’s impacting the culture, and keep a pulse on whether or not those involved are obtaining and applying any new skills.  

Any recommendations for other companies that are considering reverse mentoring?  

Be sure to get feedback from those conducting the reverse mentoring. Just because you implement the program one way, doesn’t mean you can’t modify overtime. In order for anything to be adopted by employees, it’s important to get feedback from those currently enrolled and tweak based on what you hear so that it continues to be of interest to others. 

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About LaSalle Network

LaSalle Network is a national staffing, recruiting and culture firm with business units that specialize in accounting and finance, administrative, call center, healthcare revenue cycle, human resources, management resources, marketing, sales, supply chain, technology and executive search.

We partner with companies across the country to help find top temporary and direct hire talent and grow their teams.

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