Reverse Mentoring

Hai sa traim cat mai e...When you were a kid growing up, who was the wisest person to you? Who you’d go to with your secrets and questions? I’m guessing it was probably your granpa.

Why is this? Why did we feel that our granpa was the person we could go to? Was it because we felt they offered a safer sanctuary from stuff that we didn’t want to share with our parents? Or was it because they were older than anyone we knew, so they must be wise?

Whatever the reason, one thing that can’t be denied is that older people have a wealth of experience behind them for many things. So why aren’t we using it?

I read a report the other day that said CMO’s are disappointed at the calibre of business students coming through their doors. They wanted someone who could hit the ground running, and this just wasn’t happening.

Of course it’s not going to happen. Students are only as good as the teaching, and this is suffering because of cuts in public funding to schools and universities (even dedicated business ones). So it’s a Catch 22 situation: no funding = less teaching = less knowledge.

At the same time, there are a host of older business people who are being cast aside from an age point of view. Many businesses are taking the approach that younger employees are the future as technology and business practices change, thanks to social media.

While this might be true to a certain degree, it’s not as clear-cut as these businesses think. Older people are getting more involved with social media, as anyone who attends the AgeOp chats on Twitter can attest to. And they still have an immense amount of experience built up over years of being in business.

So here’s an idea.

Reverse Mentoring = Simple Economics

Younger people know social media but don’t have business experience. Older people have that business experience but don’t necessarily have the social media knowledge. Isn’t there a simple correlation here?

Businesses can sponsor retired or semi-retired professionals to talk to business students and offer their years of knowledge and experience. This gives the students access to untold amounts of knowledge and skill-sets that they’d otherwise miss out on. It should also help appease the CMO’s who’re complaining about student knowledge.

On the flip side, the younger students coming through can help the older business professionals understand and adapt to social media quicker. This can either help them in their current jobs, or use it to combine with their retired or semi-retired status. Everyone wins.

It can’t be as simple as that. Can it?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Alexandra Groza

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