If your company is one of many in the construction industry struggling with attracting and retaining new talent, you may want to consider pairing new hires with experienced team members. Companies have been using this type of mentoring to varying degrees for decades, with experienced workers teaching the inexperienced. But in a positive twist, mentoring can go both ways. “Reverse mentoring” can be a way to build technological expertise in addition to a skilled workforce. New workers gain insights into the accepted way to perform the job, while the seasoned veterans learn to transform processes for better projects through the use of technology.
As Peyton Kringlie pointed out in the Bridging the Gap podcast, “Attitudes Toward Technology,” mentoring combines different sets of skills and different sets of strengths. Whereas it has traditionally been used to impart wisdom from an established worker to a new one, reverse mentoring uses the knowledge of the new worker to impart skills of a different type.
There are four notable ways your company can benefit from reverse mentoring.
- Diversity: Companies benefitfrom many types of diversity, including minority, knowledge, culture, education, background, and creative. It allows for the development of respect for other perspectives and collaboration on an equal footing: combining strengths and weaknesses to get the best product out of each other.
In the Bridging the Gap podcast “Staying Curious,” Maya Leigh suggested a different nuance of mentoring – asking others about solutions to problems. People may save this as a last resort because they don’t like to admit they don’t know something. However, this should become a best practice. People make mistakes, and others are surprisingly willing to share. Sharing stories about mistakes is a great form of mentoring, and it’s a productive form of company culture. The overall project benefits when you don’t keep everything to yourself.
- Culture: When reverse mentoring pairs newer employees with those who are seasoned, the finer points of a company’s strategies and leadership can be shared. This culture of sharing can help establish bonds of trust and common ground between seemingly disparate generations. You have on-the-job, practical experience of work-tested generations, plus newer employees who are looking for the technology that makes their jobs easier. The result is a mindset shift.
- Technology: It’s likely we’ll always have a situation where younger generations are more adept at using new technology, but it’s not necessarily a generational thing. When you have someone on staff with real-world project know-how and pair them with someone who is proficient with the technology, it becomes the best of both worlds. It makes a lot of business sense to take advantage of that, because you need the technology plus the practical job experience to compete in today’s business environment. In addition to drones, augmented and virtual reality, the technologies of social media, knowledge sharing and digital communications with staff and customers are all benefits.
- Commitment: While technology is important, it is by no means the only reason to use reverse mentoring. The mentoring relationship provides a sense of transparency that helps younger workers feel they are an integral part of the company. This can be a strong motivator for staying at their job. The cross-pollination between different mindsets can be a springboard to innovation that builds on the company’s success.
The useful, meaningful results of reverse mentoring are that the member of the team with more project experience learns more about technology and gets comfortable using it. The tech-proficient member of the team learns about best practices and handling challenges on the job. Both are given the opportunity to become more productive workers in the field.
If you’d like to better understand your business processes, standards and performance, you may benefit from a Business Process Assessment. Contact Applied Software today and talk to the Applied experts about capitalizing on your mentoring opportunities.