Agile leaders need to stay engaged, and perhaps more importantly they also need to find ways to keep their teams engaged, particularly in times of change, disruption and relentless technological innovations.
In this age of incessant improvements in technology, a leader’s soft skills will become ever more important. In this post I particularly wish to focus on reverse mentoring and employee engagement.
Reverse mentoring refers to an initiative in which older executives are paired with and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media and current trends. It closes the knowledge gap for both parties. For example, older employees learn social media from the younger employee and the younger employee learns business terminology and industry practices from the older employee. There is much to gain from this sharing of knowledge.
In essence it is a situation where leaders (in fact any employee) in their forties or fifties realise that they may not be in touch with technology in the same way as the young twenty-somethings. These younger employees come with fresh eyes and open minds. They instantly link to technology. Think about it. They do not know a world without the internet.
Times are changing and changing fast. I used to work with a great group of young entrepreneurs at the start of commercially available internet. We had to convince clients to buy a router and register email addresses. Many thought it was a fad. How times have changed. That was in 1997. Not really that long ago.
We all know that technology is improving at break-neck speed. So how do we engage employees (all generations) in this fast-changing world with ever increasing technological innovations? One way, I suggest, is to implement a programme of reverse mentoring. It is not something new. Many organisations have been practising it for years. I challenge more to partake in it in order to help improve employee engagement and of course knowledge sharing too. We can all learn from each other. Information really only adds value when we share it.
Today, more and more employees demand much more than just a good salary from the organisations they work for and from their jobs. Money may lure people in the first instance, but purpose, meaning, and the prospect of interesting and valuable work determines both their tenure, how hard they will work and how engaged they are. Engaged people produce better results. They work harder and are generally more effective and more efficient. Finding meaning at work has become really important. Reverse mentoring will help add more meaning, will add a purpose and will definitely be interesting and valuable.
Paul Rigby – co-author of The Bee Book and facilitator of Bee Engaged workshop