This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared on Inc. on April 1, 2015.
As individuals, we benefit from having a professional network comprised of both longtime connections and new workplace relationships. If you primarily hang out with the “old guard” in your organization or industry, you risk missing out on fresh perspectives. If you only spend your time with newbies, you miss out on the wisdom of more experienced connections.
To address this issue, many companies offer mentoring programs to help employees forge relationships that might not arise naturally. Historically, such relationships tended to consist of an older, experienced “gold” employee mentoring a younger, less experienced “silver” employee.
But, as with so many elements of the 21st century workplace, the concept of mentoring is in the midst of some serious — and smart — disruption. Today’s most progressive companies are adopting the practice of “reverse mentoring” (sometimes called “co-mentoring” or “reciprocal mentoring”), in which a younger and older employee jointly mentor one another.
Here’s why unconventional mentoring relationships are so valuable:
1. The multigenerational workplace requires a multigenerational perspective.
With four different generations in the workplace (traditionalists, baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials), your success depends on your ability to interact with people of different age groups and communication preferences. For example, if you’re a millennial who prefers to communicate via email or text, you might benefit from having a baby boomer mentor who can share some suggestions for making a great impression during in-person client pitch meetings or high-stakes, face-to-face negotiations.
Want to know the other two reasons you should start multigenerational mentoring program at your company? Visit Inc. to read the rest of this post.