27th October, is National Mentoring Day – a day that was set up to recognise and celebrate the benefits of mentoring.
I’ve been thinking – and talking – a lot about these benefits in the last couple of weeks, as we have just launched our ‘Reverse Mentoring’ scheme at Eiffage Kier. Reverse mentoring isn’t new – it has been around since the 90s – but it has innovation and diversity at its heart and is a fantastic way to leverage technology, social media and current trends.
So what is reverse mentoring?
It’s all the good stuff that you already know about mentoring – motivation, success, advice, support, direction - but switches round the relationship, where the experienced executives learn from new entrants to the industry.
At Eiffage Kier we have an excellent team of highly experienced business leaders as well as a really switched on bunch of graduates and apprentices. Reverse mentoring is about bringing those together in a positive way.
We talk a lot about the skills gap in our industry, but this isn’t just about bringing in new talent, it’s helping to top up the skills of our leaders. We have challenged our leadership team to identify areas where they could learn and then set them up with a mentor who shines in this area. This could be as simple as learning more about social media, or a full on tutorial about blockchain!
Our workplace is changing: For the first time we have five different generations working together and in just five years’ time the children that are 13 years old now will be joining us in the workplace.
One of the key benefits of reverse mentoring is staff retention – particularly of milliennials.
This is a big issue for all employers today. Millennials are now the largest generation in the labour force and they have much to offer, but they also expect a lot in return. Research shows that they want:
• Flexible environments
• Socially responsible missions
• Continuous learning
• Transferable skills development
• Personal fulfilment
• Clear opportunities for career advancement
• To feel their contribution is valued
Reverse mentoring ticks a lot of these boxes and shows them that their views are important and will be taken seriously.
Another key benefit is improving diversity and inclusion.
We take FREDIE (Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement) very seriously at Eiffage Kier and recognise that reverse mentoring can bridge gaps in age, sexuality, ethnicity, gender and disability by actively seeking out new perspectives.
Importantly, it also starts to create a diverse pipeline of talent for the leaders of the future in construction: Senior advocacy of up and coming individuals is a valuable by product of reverse mentoring.
Another key reason for doing it is to keep up with current technology. What we think of as ‘new’ in the workplace is actually… yep… old tech now. We need to be working smarter every day and using the best technology available. How often have you been struggling with something only to have a tech savvy friend or colleague (or child!) say ‘There’s an app for that’…?
But the main aim of our programme is to learn and to grow as individuals, which is what mentoring is all about. In the words of Chelsey Baker, who founded National Mentoring Day, “The relationship and role that a mentor plays has never been so important in today’s fast paced and challenging times. Mentoring has long proved to play a vital role in supporting individuals, businesses and communities”. And at Eiffage Kier, we are harnessing all the considerable skills and talent we have on tap.
For more information on National Mentoring Day visit http://nationalmentoringday.org/