Reverse Mentoring Shows that Senior Executives Do Care

29Nov11

As we wrap up the semester and discuss the different levels of media management, I found an interesting article that I feel relates in a different way. Even though it is not directly media management, it is more so the effects of media on management. The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a new concept that is present in a few large firms, called ‘reverse mentoring’. It has actually been around for about ten years and started at General Electric Co. when top senior executives were asked to reach out to their fellow 20 something employees to learn how to use the internet. Today, they are getting advice on how to use Facebook and Twitter, and how to make their posts or tweets more interesting.

Reverse mentoring has not only benefited the mentees in this context, but it allows young employees to get a chance to connect with the people they would typically not have a chance to work with. One executive said he “believes the program has also helped boost morale and retention at the firm, with many young mentors saying they feel their voices are now being heard (WSJ).” The mentors are also getting the opportunity to ask for advice from these top executives, and in turn the top executives are learning a lot more than just about using media. They are seeing how and why young people work differently than senior employees. Andrew Graff, CEO of Allen & Gerritsen, a Watertown, Mass., ad agency says the most important lesson he has learned is how to be flexible, including allowing employees to work unconventional hours and to check in from home or a coffee shop (WSJ).”

In chapter one of Managing Media Work it mentions the “plethora of technological innovations being developed and incorporated into society on a daily basis serve to supplement and undermine pervious technologies (Deuze, p.4),” which means people are constantly adapting to these new technologies and getting rid of the old. I think this shows that, just as society leans on media professionals to help them manage these changes in their everyday lives, senior executives realize they must lean on younger employees to help them manage the implications of technological changes in their workplace; the young employees acting as the media professionals in this case.

Surely it will only be the open-minded organizations that are truly willing to learn who will adopt practices like reverse mentoring, and many older organizations will continue to rely on old ways of working and making decisions.  

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203764804577060051461094004.html?grcc=cc36a7efcb251f5d0f44f7f48cba061eZ1&mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_tech

~ Stephanie S.

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One Response to “Reverse Mentoring Shows that Senior Executives Do Care”

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