Can reverse mentoring make Swiss companies more successful

The fool speaks, but the wise listens. So, should different generations of employees work harder to listen to each other? This is exactly what Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric believed. Back in the early 90s, Welsh introduced reverse mentoring to General Electric with great success. He wanted the flow of skills and experience to flow both ways within the company and bring his multi-generational workforce together.


It proved a huge success. Since then, many companies around the world have implemented this type of initiative, including LHH.


What does reverse mentoring involve?


Reverse mentoring is a practice where senior employees gain business insights, fresh perspectives, knowledge and information from a younger generation of workers. It reverses the typical mentoring relationship where an older employee guides and assists a younger employee at the start of their career.


When done well, reverse mentoring can prove highly effective at developing talent and building bridges across generations of workers. To understand why, you need to consider the benefits of reverse mentoring.


The benefits of reverse mentoring


Reverse mentoring can help bring generations of workers together, combining the wisdom and experience of older employees, with the fresh perspectives and new skillsets that younger employees can provide.


Every employee has something to offer in a multi-generational workforce. It’s important to remember that new learning pathways and mentorship, can flow both ways when reverse mentoring is encouraged. It can help facilitate the process that allows all employees to continue learning from each other.


Combining mentoring with reverse mentoring brings a workforce together, regardless of generational divisions. It helps create tighter personal and professional bonds between employees. By bringing different generations of employees together, they can work more closely, which can help boost overall productivity for the company.


Moreover, it can also help improve mobility within a company and help retain talent. Succession planning and career progression can become more obvious and visible if there is better communication between different generations of workers.


Reskilling and developing experience


Combining mentoring and reverse mentoring also creates an important two-way flow of skills and experiences that benefit all generations of workers. Younger employees can help older generations reskill in new areas.


Many older generations of workers are committed continuous learners and work hard to keep building on their extensive experience. Reverse mentoring can be used as a tool to help diversify their knowledge base by using different and unique sources of information that can be provided by a younger generation of workers.


Likewise, there is a wealth of wisdom and experience that older generations of workers can offer younger employees. Older generations of workers who have been at the company for a long time can also help newer employees understand the history of the company better. This may include the company’s culture and corporate values.


There are also skills that you cannot learn through training courses and academics. There are lots of courses on management skills, but very few on developing leadership.


Reverse mentoring also promotes diversity in the workplace


Reverse mentoring is about creating a more diverse mindset within a company. It can help prevent group-think among senior members of staff by injecting the fresh perspectives of younger employees that can enhance the decision-making process.


It also demonstrates an actionable commitment by the company to promote diversity, which can be visibly observed by shareholders. Furthermore, it shows a positive commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the company. Overall, reverse mentoring can help break down barriers and promote far greater inclusion in the workplace.


Subsequently, the company becomes more dynamic and nimbler. Senior managers have a much wider set of information to make decisions from. And any decisions that they do make are usually already supported by the views of their employees.


How can this be applied in Switzerland?


The beauty of reverse mentoring is that it’s easy to set up. To summarise, reverse mentoring can improve communication, break down corporate hierarchy, improve the flow of skill and experiences both ways, promote greater diversity and help retain talent. This in turn, can help a Swiss company become more dynamic and competitive, more productive, and possibly more profitable in the long run.