How Reverse Mentoring Can Eliminate Ageism In The Workplace

By Jim Falteisek, Senior Vice President, Asia Corporate Affairs, 3M.

We are familiar with the concept of mentoring. Typically, a more senior employee is tasked with guiding a junior colleague. But what if we told you it could be the other way around?

Gone are the days that seniority means superiority. The world is increasingly fast-paced today, and more and more millennials are joining the workplace.

There are approximately 1.1 billion millennials in Asia. In Malaysia, there are 9.5 million young workers.

Typically characterized as flexible, adaptable, and tech-savvy, millennials offer much to the workforce, and older generations indeed have a lot to learn from the young.

More companies, like 3M, are therefore pairing their senior leaders with younger mentors in this concept called reverse mentoring. There are several benefits, including imparting critical perspectives on strategic thinking, leadership, mindsets, and values in the workplace. They also provide leaders an insight into the minds of the younger generation, allowing leaders to better understand their values, priorities and motivations, how they wish to be treated, and how to optimize their talents to enhance engagement and retention, ultimately building bridges between generations. It allows us to confront ageism in the workplace head-on – by getting both younger and older generations to share their perspectives, foster better understanding, and dispel myths.

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