Reverse Mentoring: What it is and how you can benefit from it

Feb 1, 2016

WAHVE Reverse MentoringIn 2014, we brought you the story of Nancy Werner, a WAHVE worker who once mentored a young underwriter and had the pleasure of watching this person share his experience with the next generation. It became a positive chain reaction, inspired and initiated by Nancy’s words of encouragement. This is a prime example of a WAHVE narrative we are proud to hear time and time again: Beyond bringing expertise and longevity to the industry, our wahvers share unique stories that make a lasting impact on young professionals.

In keeping with Nancy’s story, it is often assumed a mentor will be older than you. It is only logical that the more experience one has to share, the more equipped he or she is to be a strong mentor. However, alongside the importance of this traditional mentor/mentee relationship is the immense value in learning from others throughout your career – even if those folks are the same age as you, or even younger.

Oftentimes, mentorship is associated with wanting to be nurtured or seeking out advice. However, some mentorship is simply about finding people who think differently than you do. Your mentorship needs may fit into an ever-growing trend called Reverse Mentoring, where older professionals will seek out a younger mentor.

Because this is a bit of a divergence from the traditional interpretation of mentorship, here are five reasons to consider Reverse Mentoring:

#1: Your network will expand considerably. Keeping an open mind in looking to spiritual leaders, community leaders, and contacts of friends and colleagues will only benefit you in becoming a more dynamic professional.

#2: You will stay updated on the struggles that the coming generations are facing. Hearing these stories from folks at different stages in the industry keeps you honest about your own work and the relevance it holds.

#3: Vintage professionals who reach out to someone more junior may learn more when it comes to new fields or areas of technology where they might not be as fluent.

#4: Constantly pursuing mentors is a sign of employable fitness. This is one to expound upon: It’s important to keep in mind that Reverse Mentorship is not intended to replace a mentor relationship, but to supplement it. A common assumption in mentorship is that you should only seek out one individual to consult. While having a strong, adaptable relationship is certainly important, consider inviting more to the party. This Fast Company article outlines the five types of mentors to look for throughout your career. Think of it as finding the “Board of Directors” to your own career journey: Someone who is a good coach; someone who is at the pinnacle of the type of career you would like to have; someone who can connect you and introduce you to new people and opportunities; someone who is a Swiss army knife in the industry you’re in; and someone who is on the same career path as you and can act as more of a sympathetic ear.

#5: As wahvers know, we now operate in a landscape where at least four generations (silent, boomer, gen X and millennial) are working alongside each other. Consider your panel of mentors mirroring this workforce by seeking out someone from each of these generations.

Have you successfully found a team of mentors?

Have you ever been mentored by someone the same age or younger than you?


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