What points to watch out for before embarking on reverse mentoring?
Once the idea of launching a reverse mentoring program has been validated, enthusiasm can make you do great things … But it can also make you overlook key elements that could destabilize your project. If reverse mentoring brings a host of opportunities, we must not forget that like any new business set up, it involves risks – and we are giving you some tips to anticipate them!
Experts must become educators
An expert is not a pedagogue, far from it. An expert masters his subject, handles it on a daily basis, practices it to advance your organization’s projects – and most often exchanges with other experts, or in any case professionals in the same profession. A pedagogue is in the transmission, he explains the subjects to a novice, accompanies the rise in skills, makes sure that things are properly understood.
To ensure that digital experts – who often have the impression that things are obvious as they use them on a daily basis – demonstrate pedagogy, we must train them, show them what can be a difficulty for the other, get them used to transmitting, dissecting, explaining. Without that, frustration is guaranteed, both for the senior mentee who will not be able to progress and for the junior mentor who will feel that the information he gives is not assimilated.
Not all of your branches learn the same
You feel like reverse mentoring is completely aligned with your corporate culture – and we hope it is. But don’t forget that your employees have a culture that has been anchored in them for much longer: that of the country in which they live or have lived for a long time. While some cultures cope very well with the reversal of reverse mentoring, it can be more difficult for cultures where hierarchy and respect for elders are deeply rooted. Eg in Asia, where each country has its own cultural structure and where an Indian, Singaporean and Japanese cannot understand a program in the same way, it is essential to provide an intercultural translation and to adapt the program and the pedagogy of the latter. We work a lot on these points which are the basis of an effective and efficient acculturation.
Likewise, reverse mentoring puts into practice learning methods that may seem very informal to some cultures. It’s up to you to find out how to explain the reverse mentoring program so that it is understood by all. You can also make adaptations, both in practices and in content (for example, not all social networks have the same importance in all countries) so that mentors and mentees can easily appropriate their part. from the program.
The content must be prepared – and above all bordered!
You might be tempted to embark on a reverse mentoring program by setting fuzzy goals (“understanding social media”) or simply session titles (“Facebook”). However, we must go further and create content specially created for the program, with a schedule, exercises and clear objectives. This will allow you to guide mentors in what to convey, help mentees measure their progress and better assess the overall progress of the program. Precise content will also prevent mentees, through poor understanding of the issues, from calling on mentors for any IT-related situation, from badly saved files to printer problems!
Succeeding in your reverse mentoring program thus depends as much on the will of each individual as on your ability to prevent risks which may become key points in your program. Thinking about it upstream means ensuring a minimum of negative feedback from employees at start-up – and you don’t have twice the opportunity to make a good impression!
Jean-Noël Chaintreuil is the founder of Change Factory, a laboratory for acculturation and support for change where people are at the center.
The main missions are the understanding of cultures, support for Comex, cultural transformations and the implementation of disruptive strategies.
He also works at various universities (La Sorbonne, Sciences Po, Berkeley, Dauphine, Sorbonne Abu Dhabi, etc.) on the future of work, human resources, cultural transformations and supports intrapreneurship programs.
You can find his articles on Quora: https://fr.quora.com/