Reverse mentoring - assumption busting

Assumptions are part of our human makeup and sometimes they serve us well. However, they can also seriously get in the way.

Take a look at this tweet from a couple of days ago…

Waiting for my first reverse mentoring session on diversity/race with a senior individual at an organisation. The conversation:

Him: “Are you here to fix my laptop or printer?”
Me: “No I’m here for the mentoring session”
Him: “Oh gosh I’m so sorry”

I cannot make this stuff up…

“We all make assumptions, all the time.”

Before you judge too harshly, stop for a minute and notice what story you have already started to make up in your head about who the younger mentor and the older mentee might be? We all make assumptions, all the time.

Assumptions are part of our human makeup and sometimes they serve us well. However, they can also seriously get in the way as illustrated above. Last week we worked with a bunch of amazing people at RSM to launch their new Reverse Mentoring programme. To help raise awareness of our unconscious bias’ and hopefully avoid any kind of similar conversation to the above, we spent a chunk of the day assumption busting. And we uncovered some great stuff.

According to the mentors (younger people in the firm), all the mentees (partners in the firm) are: from a wealthy background, like a drink and went to university… simply not true.

By Emily Cosgrove

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Of course, some of these were true for some of the partners but certainly not all of them. Reverse Mentoring is super hot right now and it should be given the current context of increasingly raised awareness of inequality. We all need to be having more conversations with people who are different to ourselves, be that older/younger, different race, religion, gender, sexual orientation…

But without programme support to set the mentoring relationships up with the best opportunity to succeed – to begin busting our assumptions, speaking our truth and listening like beginners – conversations like the shocking tweet above are far more likely to happen.

To find out more about how we support organisations to set up successful Reverse Mentoring programmes, contact us or email me at