The adage coined by Peter Drucker, “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” has never been truer in today’s hyper-competitive and ever-changing business world. In fact, creating and building a culture that directs an enterprise’s employees to execute on the mission is arguably an executive’s single most important job. In today’s multi-generational workplace, a critical component of creating a sustainable culture is ensuring all employees are fully engaging their energies and talents, and communicating effectively with one another.
Systematically connecting young, less experienced employees with seasoned and longer-tenured ones through a process of “reverse mentoring” is a key component of a strong, tightly networked culture.
Reverse mentoring involves systematically positioning younger Millennial generation employees who are often new to the workforce or enterprise to mentor their career-established gen x, baby-boomer, or traditionalist counterparts. Millennials can impart their competence in using technology more productively, unleashing social media to advance an influence agenda, and helping others understand the millennial mindset and motivational frame. In return, the three more seasoned generations can mentor these incoming freshmen and enlighten them on the importance of strategy, innovation, developing relationships across and through the organization, business processes, and powerful lessons they’ve learned about overcoming failures. Constructed and supported well in an organization, reverse mentoring is a powerful component in building a culture of open communication and ongoing learning that fuels engagement, performance, innovation, and retention.