This was one of the points made in the latest Josh Bersin HR Predictions 2023 report released last month. The report highlighted three big workforce trends that are impacting companies:
Diversity – the workforce is diversifying rapidly and companies must continue to do the same.
Longevity – the workforce is getting older, and this means the nature of our careers, work, and jobs needs to adapt.
Scarcity – the size of the workforce is shrinking, people turnover is high and workers are in charge
To manage these challenges and to remain productive, workplaces need to be environments where people feel like they have a place, where they are listened to, included and trusted – whether working from home or in the office. As Bersin suggests, ‘if you take care of your people, they will take care of you.’ Caring for each other at work is not just a nice thing to do; it’s essential. We need our leaders to lead in a style that isn’t just focused on ‘tell’ and ‘direct’ but shows care, empathy, and curiosity.
One of the most powerful conversational programmes we have found that helps change workplace cultures is reverse mentoring. It provides the structure and support to help foster deeper understanding of the lived experience of other colleagues by matching people who may not otherwise have a relationship, be that someone from a different generation, race, gender, class, or geography. Wherever you may be looking to grow connection and learning, reverse mentoring can offer a way forward. Through sharing stories, staying curious about what each other hears, and truly listening, pairs can foster a deeper understanding and help the organisation create an environment where real change can happen.
Reverse mentoring addresses the trend of longevity by presenting an opportunity for organisations of all sizes to benefit from generational collaboration and learning across all ages.
Though our collaborations with organisations looking to embed reverse mentoring, here are some of the key factors that we know help create a successful programme and we recommend the following:
- Involve your most senior leaders as mentees – including decision makers accelerates potential change
- Keep up the energy – provide regular support touchpoints for participants
- Have a dedicated programme owner/coordinator – this is critical, they are the glue that binds everything together
- Sustainability – begin with the end in mind and remember that this is not a one-off event
- Launch with a bang – reveal matched pairs on the launch day with all participants present
- Ensure that the programme owner is supported to help them be part of the internal system and challenge effectively
- Consider the power dynamic – or risk falling at the first hurdle because of expectations and bias
If you’d like to find out about how Reverse Mentoring could help create lasting cultural change in your organisation or be put in touch with one of our clients who’s already embedded a programme, give us a call – we’d love to have a chat.
By Sara Hope