‘This is not the Army:’ Why reverse mentoring can be beneficial for your business

Posted On May 10, 2018

What can we learn from millennials? The best flavor Frappuccino at Starbucks? What all the emojis mean? The appeal of a standing desk?

Actually, at least one 60-something CEO believes there’s a lot more we can learn from millennials. That’s why he’s accepted one as a mentor.

Mark Tibergien, CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, says reverse mentoring – younger employees mentoring their older peers — isn’t just a retention tool for hiring and keeping talented millennials. He and his millennial mentor, Pershing VP of Business Development Kayla Flaten, share how it has been a beneficial tool for both of them and their company in this episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston.”

Tibergien says reverse mentoring at Pershing began with an epiphany. “The primary driver,” he says, “is that one of my fellow board members looked around the room and saw we were surrounded by middle-aged white men trying to serve a diverse community ethnically, from a gender standpoint, even from a religious standpoint, that wasn’t being represented within our boardroom.”

How to keep the company relevant to the emerging generation – both employees and clients? One way might be to ask members of the emerging generation to share what they want, how they operate, what motivates them.

As one might imagine, understanding technological advances and their applications within the company is one of the main ways younger employees can help their older peers, but Tibergien said there are other benefits as well – understanding differences in communication, emerging trends, having a firmer grasp on what’s relevant today.

And yes, Flaten says the program has greatly improved employee retention. From a millennial perspective, it’s a recruiting tool and an opportunity to have a voice and a greater understanding of the operation, which in turn has led her to feel more connected and loyal to the company.

“I used to be pretty quick to make an assumption about a decision,” she says. “But learning that there’s a lot of care that goes into that decision from the top of the house has really made me rethink immediate reaction.”

But how do you convince middle-aged managers and employees eager to maintain a firm grip on their jobs to buy in to such a concept? Join us to hear tips from Tibergien and Flaten on how even small businesses can get started with reverse mentoring, and why it’s important to build the environment of inclusion and collaboration that it can help create.

“This is not the Army. This is not the Marines,” Tibergien says. “In business, it’s a collaborative process.”

Categories: Baby Boomers, Generation Y / Millennials, Podcast, Workplace