The benefits of mentoring relationships are well documented, from helping people feel happier in their jobs to advancing their professional development and career opportunities. Workplace mentoring relationships often involve an older, more experienced professional helping a younger protégé who is newer to the field. However, “reverse mentoring” — relationships in which a younger mentor works with a more seasoned protégé — can also be an effective way for workers to connect and learn from each other across generations.
“The data shows that as we progress in time, more and more people will report to someone who’s younger than them,” says Charlotte Japp, founder of Cirkel, a membership platform that matches cross-generational mentors and protégés. Collaborating with a younger mentor is not only a way to get comfortable reporting to someone younger, but it’s also a chance to realize we can learn something from everyone.
Here are some tips on how to find and work with a younger mentor.
1. Think about what you want to learn
Think about your skills or work life in general. Are there areas where someone who grew up with technology might be able to help? For example, if you want to learn more about social media strategy, you might take a class. But if you want someone to teach you the ins and outs of TikTok or how to create a PowerPoint presentation with animation, finding someone who is very comfortable with those tools might help you learn in a targeted, more personalized way.
“When we were busy raising our children, that generation was creating videos from scratch and editing them and posting them all within three and a half minutes several times a day,” says career coach Chandra Turner, also known as the Talent Fairy. Tapping a younger mentor who is skilled in an area you want to learn can be a great way to get some effective coaching.