A reverse mentor is a mentor that is younger than the person that they are mentoring. A relatively new term, but an old concept, reverse mentoring requires an open mind and a willingness to learn. A great mentor can extremely valuable, regardless of the age of either party. We all have something to learn and contribute from one another.
Not sure what you stand to gain from a reverse mentor? Here are a few benefits…
- Fresh Ideas. You’ve been in the game a long time. You’ve developed habits over time, from doing similar projects many times over. With such repetition, it can be hard to think outside of your comfort zone. A reverse mentor can shed a completely new light on a situation. A fresh perspective from fresh eyes.
- New Tools. Again, being in the game for a long time, you’ve probably become comfortable with certain tools and technologies. Perhaps you haven’t updated in a while. A younger professional that is just starting off, will probably start with the newest tools and technology, and so they can introduce you to it. (Not to say you are less tech-savvy)
- Reignite Your Flame. Over time, perhaps you’ve lost a bit of your excitement for your profession. Take the ambition and eagerness to learn from your reverse mentor (assuming you chose a good one) and use it to get yourself fired up again. They can help you reignite your own eagerness to learn.
- Teach to Learn. This one might not work for everyone. Whenever I had a test coming up in school, and I explained a question or topic to another student, it helped me understand and remember it better. By teaching a younger professional, you may end up touching on things that you haven’t had to do in a while, or haven’t been so comfortable with, and it will force you to understand it well enough to teach it.
- Just Learn. Sometimes, age will have nothing to do with it. You will just learn from the thoughts and insights of another professional that happens to be younger than you. Don’t let a stereotype prevent you from learning.
Ultimately every mentorial relationship should be a two way street. Both the young, and the not as young professional should learn from each other.
What else would you add to the list? How has a reverse mentor helped you?
Remember to thank your mentors every Mentor Monday.