Reverse mentoring a need not a choice anymore in Zimbabwe

IN the wise words of Greengard in 2002: “Executives are beginning to realise that knowledge isn’t a one-way street. It’s in everyone’s best interest to share expertise.”

guest column: Edwick Mabika

Reverse mentoring is when traditional roles are switched; a younger individual mentors an older and more experienced mentee. It is high time organisations in Zimbabwe appreciate the benefits that come with reverse mentoring.

Few organisations have started to embrace reverse mentoring programmes. According to Forbes magazine in 2013, by 2025 millennials will form 75% of the global workforce.

Reverse mentoring is an innovative and cost-effective professional development tool that capitalises on building bridges between generations.

Reverse mentoring can be conducted formally with a set, regular schedule, or it can be more casual, depending on the organisation’s preferences.

In Zimbabwe, it is a lucrative initiative as it is less expensive to initiate, as most of the resources can be acquired with not much cost.

Currently, millennials are ambitious youths who are educated and keen to take responsibility in different organisations. There is need to prepare them for future leadership and their development therefore needs to be accelerated.

In this regard, reverse mentoring provides the young generation of employees with the necessary expertise and experience from senior employees, which is vital to add on to their education.
Senior employees gain valuable modern skills, which are vital making them relevant in this digital era.

When there is a good mix of these two, the organisation continues to be productive and growth is inevitable. It’s a great method to break down the boundaries and introduce diverse generations to each other’s mentalities.

In order to get the best of the millennials, senior employees can tap into the knowledge of the millennials on matters of technology; this is a generation that is technology–savvy.

Business leaders can tap in new ways in the informative world on issues of modern-day smart recruitment and marketing, not only that young mentors have the psychological benefit as they feel recognised and also learn key leadership skills from these interactions. These will prepare them for future management positions and the advancement of their careers.

For example, social media platforms as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or hi5 are modern-day marketing platforms senior employees should also get familiarised with.

In return, although some of them had got used to other forms of moribund marketing, their experience in the marketing of a product can apply in this and cannot be regarded as outdated
One of the major benefits of this programme is that new ideas are stimulated, and it also improves communication between employees and the employers. Because of diverse backgrounds, when people are paired, there is cross-generational communication that will assist organisational learning and innovation.

Moreover, it can be used as a talent management strategy by employers and millennials can be motivated and feel valued by the organisation when they are able to share their knowledge with more senior employees following an increased contact with senior management and through the quality of interaction. They are able to prove their quality and competencies and early identification of high performers can be observed.

It’s an awesome method to separate the boundaries and acquaint diverse generations with each other’s capabilities.

Reverse mentoring also help learn about the business and wider industry practices at large.

These millennial employees in the next years will be captains of industries. It is, therefore, pertinent that every business jumps on the speeding train attached to this fast-moving future.

Reverse mentoring can pose a problem with more senior executives who are rigid and used to calling the shots, and cannot be at easy asking elementary questions that reveal their lack of knowledge to rookie employees. But by understanding that this is a mutual benefit, it can be able to shape the attitude and character of leaders.

For many businesses to stay relevant and cope with the changes being brought by this informative age, reverse mentoring is a necessary initiative.

In this informative age where, if one doesn’t have information loses out and be overtaken by events.

Reverse mentoring provides a tool that is important in this informative age (age of information/knowledge).

It is now time to embrace each other and think outside the box for the benefit of organisations. Reverse mentoring for organisations that have been ignoring it, is a way to go forward as a nation.

As different generations we need each other to succeed in this ever changing world. It’s time to teach the old dog new tricks.

Edwick Mabika writes in his personal capacity

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