Reverse Mentoring, Part 2 - October 8, 2015
Well, it's happened. My time as the youngest, fresh-out-of-school co-ed and baby of the marketing department has definitely passed. Now I find myself working with both leaders and direct reports who are years younger than me.
We were all young once and experienced our share of "lessons learned." In 2011, a young employee of the Red Cross accidentally hit the wrong button. A tweet about "getting slizzered" that was intended for her personal Twitter account was instead posted to the Red Cross account. The Red Cross handled the "rogue" tweet with humor and honesty.
While this teammate learned the hard way about responsible use of social media for business, there are probably a few things this person could teach us as well.
In yesterday's Promotional Consultant Today, we looked at four benefits you can get from a reverse mentor relationship where seasoned business professionals create a mentor relationship with younger employees. Today we continue the series with four more tips from executive coach Paul Bernard for making the most of your reverse mentoring relationship.
1. Don't let the tail wag the dog. Know what tactical information you are looking for from your mentor and how that information may impact your strategic decisions, but be careful not to let the mentor dictate work strategies.
2. Keep things work appropriate. Younger workers may be able to teach you things about technology and markets, but also may be more fluid in how they openly mix business, social outings and social media.
3. Establish ground rules about privacy and confidentiality. With the ability to post in real time on a wide variety of digital and social channels, make sure your mentor is very clear about the privacy and confidentiality of your conversations, otherwise, you might see information that shouldn't be in the hands of your customers or competitors on a public platform.
4. Be careful not to let your mentor persuade you to take on excessive risks. Your mentor may have great information and insight that you can use, but also may not fully understand the risk implications of some of the suggestions.
Of course, epic mistakes like that of the Red Cross employee can play out okay. The next day, the beer company included in the rogue tweet pledged to donate to the Red Cross for each tweet that included a specific hash tag and the Red Cross received a decent amount of donations from the whole fiasco.
Tomorrow, PCT continues its three-part series on reverse mentoring by suggesting ways to help you find the right reverse mentor.
Source: Paul Bernard is the founder and principal of Paul Bernard & Associates, an executive coaching and career management consulting firm based in New York City.