The University of St. Thomas

“Reverse Mentoring”

Published on: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Mentoring has historically been viewed as a very one-sided relationship.  The mentor has much to give to the protégé and receives little back.  Mentoring was seen as filling an empty cup. 

In the last twenty years mentoring has been redefined as a much more reciprocal relationship.  While the mentor often has much more to give than the protégé by virtue of their longer experience, successful protégés also seek ways to give back to their mentors.  In our mentor program we have described that as a return on the mentor’s investment.  That return can be in gratitude, in follow-through, in acknowledgement of the mentor’s impact, or in sharing with your mentor connections or knowledge you have that may be of interest to the mentor.

Mashable recently posted an article entitled, “Reverse Mentoring”.  The article was about how younger professionals can give back to their mentors by sharing technological expertise, especially social media expertise, with mentors who may not have the same comfort with those tools.  Reverse mentoring is a catchy way of describing return on investment for the mentor.  It is describing what the protégé is able to give back to mentors who have shared business expertise and experience with the new professional.

The article is a great reminder that we all have something to give, talents to share, with our mentors.  Our mentors do more for us than we can fully repay, but in sharing our own talents with them we give them a positive return on the investments they make in us.

4 Responses to ““Reverse Mentoring””

  1. Ashley Bowes Johnson says:

    I really like this. I often find that people new to networking and mentoring relationships are nervous about asking someone to take that role in their lives, feeling that they are asking for a lot. This is a good reminder that there are lots of perks for the mentor/experienced professional/informational interviewee as well. Thanks Dave!

  2. dmbateson says:

    Good to still have you as a reader Ashley! As to the post, I think we all undervalue what we have to offer. If nothing else, our efforts to give back show appreciation themselves.

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