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  • Transcriber: Erin Gregory Reviewer: Ivana Korom

  • We've always thought of mentoring

  • as the older generation passing down wisdom to the young,

  • but there's a huge benefit to flipping that around

  • and allowing the novice to teach the master.

  • [The Way We Work]

  • [Made possible with the support of Dropbox]

  • The workforce currently consists of up to five generations

  • and it's becoming more diverse

  • across all spectrums of underrepresented groups.

  • But that change is not arriving nearly as fast

  • in C-suites and in boardrooms.

  • Which means there's a growing gap

  • between leaders and their people

  • in regards to their perspectives and experiences.

  • Our organizations can fall right through that gap

  • into the trap of stale thinking, blind spots

  • and having policies that could alienate

  • these underrepresented groups,

  • not only in regards to age,

  • race or gender,

  • but all different kinds of viewpoints.

  • Reverse mentoring could be an antidote to that tunnel vision.

  • But making reverse mentoring work,

  • isn't as simple as finding a mentor

  • and pressing go.

  • You have to be genuinely curious

  • about learning from that individual.

  • And you have to be intentional about the relationship

  • in order to make it valuable.

  • I know this because I was asked

  • just a year into my career at Virgin Atlantic

  • to be the first ever reverse mentor

  • to mentor CEO Craig Kreeger.

  • I'd met Craig a few times

  • and presented to him in meetings,

  • but this, it was a whole different ball game.

  • Craig had revealed that he had no black women

  • in his inner circle

  • and he was keen to understand my perspective

  • on how to build a more inclusive culture at Virgin Atlantic.

  • No pressure.

  • Here's what I learned

  • about how to make reverse mentoring work.

  • Lesson one, make your match thoughtfully.

  • Find someone who has a pulse

  • on the key spokespeople in the organization

  • to help you make your match.

  • This doesn't have to be someone in human resources,

  • just someone who knows you and your teams well,

  • because chemistry really matters.

  • The VP of people experience chose me

  • because I was open to sharing my ideas

  • and also my enthusiasm for leadership development.

  • Also make sure

  • that your mentor isn't a direct report or part of your team,

  • because it will be really difficult to elicit honest feedback

  • from someone who you also have to review

  • at the end of the year.

  • If you're in finance,

  • find someone creative in marketing,

  • or if you're in engineering, find someone in customer service.

  • This will ensure that you develop perspectives

  • from outside of your immediate team

  • and different perspectives make better leaders.

  • Lesson two,

  • to make things simple, set some ground rules.

  • The first meeting should be offsite in a neutral location.

  • If you're the mentee, you should set the agenda.

  • What is it that you really want to learn?

  • Maybe you'd like to understand

  • your mentor's career journey

  • or perhaps whether they've had any major obstacles

  • they've had to overcome,

  • or maybe you'd like to understand

  • how specific company policies impact them

  • either directly or indirectly.

  • Agree that your conversations together

  • will be confidential

  • and whether there are any topics which are off limits,

  • such as family life

  • or specific feedback on individuals.

  • Lesson three, start with an icebreaker.

  • I like to think of this

  • as a long elevator pitch of your life stories.

  • Who are you?

  • Poignant moments in your life.

  • What are your hopes and dreams?

  • Pivot to seek differences and not similarities

  • because that's the real power of reverse mentoring.

  • Craig and I found

  • that we had formative experiences in common.

  • Both of us immigrants,

  • him a second generation growing up in the US

  • and myself first generation

  • arriving in the UK from Jamaica

  • at the age of three.

  • But from there,

  • our stories are quite different.

  • Lesson four, beware of role reversion.

  • There were a few times in our conversation

  • where Craig slipped into giving me career advice.

  • And I had to say, "Craig this is really interesting

  • and I'd love to come back to this later,

  • but in our limited time together,

  • is there anything else you'd like to understand from me?"

  • Now this was quite hard,

  • but you have to remember that as a mentor

  • for this very short period of time,

  • your insights are actually more valuable to the organization.

  • Lesson five, make time for reflection.

  • Agree the key takeaways from each of the sessions,

  • either at the end or through follow-up email

  • and schedule your sessions

  • to allow time between for reflection.

  • We found that three to four weeks provided a great rhythm.

  • And finally,

  • give credit where credit's due.

  • In the traditional mentoring relationship

  • the mentor isn't expected to be given credit.

  • However, in reverse mentoring

  • where the mentee actually holds a lot of the power

  • accurate credit really counts.

  • Forward-thinking organizations

  • use reverse mentoring as one of the tools

  • to help them build a more inclusive environment.

  • And studies have shown

  • that when organizations embrace reverse mentoring

  • members of those underrepresented groups

  • feel more confident in sharing their perspectives.

  • And when accompanied by a comprehensive diversity

  • and inclusion strategy,

  • it leads to higher retention amongst these groups.

  • Personally, I found

  • that my reverse mentoring relationship with Craig

  • enabled me to have a sense of ownership and leadership

  • in building an inclusive culture at Virgin.

  • And for Craig, it showed

  • that even when you're at the pinnacle of your career,

  • there's still more you can learn.

Transcriber: Erin Gregory Reviewer: Ivana Korom

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How reverse mentorship can help create better leaders | The Way We Work, a TED series

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/29
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