The concept of Reverse Coaching is when a senior mature professional is coached by a younger, relatively less experienced employee. The aim of this formalised relationship is to help the older generation of workers stay current and informed about new technologies or trends.
Such schemes have been around for decades, with then CEO Jack Welch introducing it at General Electric in 1999 to help his employees with the internet. While the focus has typically been on new technology, companies like Consulting firm EY, have used such programs to help with diversity, and when introduced alongside other initiatives, e.g. unconscious-bias training, they are very successful.
Microsoft have implemented the program as they have found millennials think differently and are able to provide insight into different ways to communicate and meet the demands of consumers.
Reverse coaching is different to “mentoring” because true mentoring is defined as “a trusting relationship between a more experienced individual who focuses his/her energies in assisting another in personal and professional development. The mentor’s role is to fully engage the mentoree and to create an environment whereby the mentoree will share the critical issues that affect his or her success.“ In the case of reverse coaching, younger employees are simply helping older workers attain new skills/knowledge or perspective.
The reverse coaching partnerships can be either informal or part of a formal company-wide initiative.
Here are a few tips for setting up a formal reverse program:
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