Get Mentored By Your Mentee

Cathy Cabanban, RD, LDN, CDEDoes the following scenario sound familiar? You, an intelligent healthcare professional, sit at your desk at home attempting to set up your new smart phone or create an Excel document. No matter how hard you try, you cannot get the job done! Suddenly, a teenager waiting to use your desktop enters, grabbing the mouse or phone from your hand announcing,” This is SO easy! Here, I’ll show you how to do it!”

I have been there, the teenager being my daughter, helping her mom (who grew up with only landlines and typewriters) navigate the world of technology.

Are there solutions to these dilemmas in the workplace?

How about “Reverse Mentoring”? Have you heard of it? I wrote my last post about mentoring, and have since learned about this newer twist on an old idea.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch is credited with introducing the concept of reverse mentoring about 10 years ago. In GE’s program, the company’s executives were paired with Internet savvy younger employees to learn more about technology.

What a fantastic idea, with great implications for HCP’s as well. Often older, more experienced HCP’s act as mentors or preceptors to younger hires or interns. But how much can more experienced employees learn from younger employees? Not only can younger employees share their knowledge about technology, but also provide enthusiasm and insight into the workplace environment.

How could a program like this be successful at your office or clinic?

It is important that both parties have information the other wants to learn, so the relationship is not one-way. If you are the more experienced employee, think about sharing your knowledge as a clinician, in return gaining practical knowledge from a younger colleague on using technology to better market your practice or communicate with your patients.

I believe that understanding, patience, and a plan are required to make a reverse mentoring program successful. For example, the mentor and mentee should devote a certain amount of time together each week. This could be some face –to –face time and some time via email. Both parties should be patient, with an understanding that we all learn at a different pace.

Too often older employees are not willing to listen to younger employees, which is unfortunate. Fresh perspective and knowledge can only help your office/clinic/program to be more successful.

If you have tried reverse mentoring in your workplace, let me know the types of knowledge that each party has gained.

At Healthy Interactions, I work with some brilliant young minds, and they have been most generous about sharing their knowledge with me. I have actually picked up some tips about technology this year that I have shared with my daughter. Now that is a reversal!


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