“How is it going in your relationship?” – experiences of our Siemens Supply Chain Management reverse mentoring twosomes.
The most common form of a professional relationship is traditional mentoring, which historically implied more experienced employees passing on knowledge to their juniors. But the days when that was the only option for mutual learning or broadening our horizons are long gone: mentoring, too, moves with the times. Companies are increasingly turning this approach on its head, called “reverse mentoring”. Siemens, under the auspices of its new strategic priority – growth mindset – is no exception. In practice this means, for instance, that junior helps senior expand their digital skills.Our procurement community now has several of these pairings in place, so we checked in to ask them exactly how it works.
Madeleine and Donna’s reverse mentoring relationship is relatively new. The idea of finding a partner who could help with even very specific issues, but in a stress-free setting, was very appealing to both of them. Donna became aware of reverse mentoring through the SCM DigiNetwork’s DigitalMIND program and subsequently contacted Madeleine, who was listed as a potential mentor on the SCM Reverse Mentors list. As they work in the same field, they had plenty to talk about right from the start, but their discussions now cover far more than what’s happening at work. Madeleine mainly helps Donna with issues around using digital tools, while Donna’s in-depth knowledge of procurement is a big plus for Madeleine.
A transition from traditional to reverse mentoring: Urvil Matalia and Hueseyin Gelis
Urvil and Hueseyin actually started out in a traditional mentoring arrangement, with Urvil learning day-to-day management skills from Hueseyin. But the process soon became two-way, and a reverse mentoring relationship emerged. For Urvil and Hueseyin, it doesn’t matter who learns what from whom. The pair say the secret of their success lies in asking questions. If Urvil asks his mentoring partner a question, Hueseyin asks him one back, which at times can be very amusing! So far, it’s been a tremendous help in terms of mutual problem-solving.
A reverse mentoring relationship that has stood the test of time: Rodrigo Junqueira and Drake Paben
Rodrigo and Drake go back more than seven years. Drake was Rodrigo’s manager for several of them. When Drake changed jobs, the two colleagues didn’t lose touch. On the contrary, they took the opportunity to build a reverse mentoring relationship. Chatting with someone objective and sharing pointers has proven invaluable to both of them.
Rodrigo and Drake have a regular discussion about management. One of their first deep dives focused on leading teams – particularly in a virtual setting or across generations. They have different approaches, which is helpful in that they give each other an opportunity to try out something new. Their secret to maintaining the relationship is having fun and keeping things friendly and relaxed.
Reverse mentoring relationships are as unique as the individuals who form them. As you can see, the topics of discussion could include anything from digital tools, to cross-cultural exchange, through specialist knowledge transfer. But regardless of their career experience, all our interviewees agree that a reverse mentoring relationship has no downsides.
Check out our new DigiPodcast episode on reverse mentoring with Thomas Holzner and Matthias Weidinger!
Do you have experience with reverse mentoring? Let’s start a discussion and write your comment!