When I mentioned to a friend that I was writing an article about reverse mentoring, she immediately bristled. At first, I thought it was because she didn’t believe in official mentoring programs, but it wasn’t that. She bristled at the term “reverse mentoring” explaining that, for her, it has a negative connotation — that coaching by junior or younger staff to senior or more experienced staff is viewed as less valuable, and therefore needs the “reverse” qualifier. Reverse mentoring is sometimes referred to as joint mentoring for just that reason.
The term joint mentoring is more powerful to me. Over the years I’ve mentored a lot of people and I get so much from the exchange that it’s definitely a mutual and shared experience. I also actively reach out to junior team members and younger colleagues throughout the agency to broaden my skillset, answer questions and improve my expertise in areas that are new to me. I get 1:1 insight and perspective that helps me do my job better and see the world from a different point of view, helping to improve my soft skills. In return, they get the opportunity to tap into my exposure to different parts of the business and experience with different client situations, not to mention the ability to ask questions in a confidential manner.