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Effectiveness of reverse mentoring in creating intergenerational relationships

Katarzyna Gadomska-Lila (University of Szczecin, Szczecin, Poland)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 17 July 2020

Issue publication date: 7 December 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Demographic changes and consequent diversification of teams of employees in organisations require us to change one’s approach to managing human resources and to search for new methods adjusted to contemporary challenges. One of such methods is reverse mentoring. It is a new form of mentoring where the younger employee is the mentor sharing expertise with the older employee. The purpose of this article is to identify advantages that reverse mentoring offers individuals who participate in the mentoring relationship – the younger mentor and the older mentee, and the entire organisation, as well as to identify conditions conducive to revealing desired advantages.

Design/methodology/approach

The article presents results of empirical research conducted based on the qualitative method and semi-structured individual interviews. The research focussed on five pairs from five different organisations operating in Poland who applied reverse mentoring as well as managers or human resources managers of these enterprises.

Findings

Research results show that reverse mentoring may offer numerous advantages to both individuals engaged in the relation (the mentor and the mentee) and the entire organisation. Thus, reverse mentoring seems to be an efficient tool for sharing knowledge, creating engagement, developing leadership and, first and foremost, building intergenerational relations based on mutual acceptance. Conclusions drawn from the research show that efficacy of reverse mentoring depends on the level of engagement in the mentor/mentee relation and the level of organisational support – engagement of the officers, supportive organisational culture and atmosphere conductive to cooperation.

Research limitations/implications

One of the limitations of the research is the fact that reverse mentoring is not common in Polish organisations, thus the number of the interviews is limited. Furthermore, the data were collected from companies operating in Poland and they refer to one cultural circle. Another limitation is closely connected with the nature of qualitative research, as the research findings may be influenced by the personal perspective of participants.

Practical implications

The paper helps managers to build intergenerational relations. It encourages the use of reverse mentoring by emphasising its various benefits. It also specifies the conditions which need to be taken into consideration in order to increase the chances of enjoying the benefits, especially the necessity to prepare individual development plans adjusted to the needs and expectations of participants, proper selection of pairs for the mentoring relation and sufficient preparation of each party to the relation. This knowledge may be used by practitioners of managing human resources to develop organisational support for mentoring programmes.

Social implications

The paper presents reverse mentoring as an opportunity for intergenerational knowledge sharing and developing intergenerational cooperation.

Originality/value

The results of the research extend the knowledge in the area of applying reverse mentoring to create intergenerational relationships. So far, this subject has received limited attention in the literature. Since reverse mentoring is not a widespread method, and research in this area is relatively rare, the value of the paper is to fill the gaps in this subject.

Keywords

Citation

Gadomska-Lila, K. (2020), "Effectiveness of reverse mentoring in creating intergenerational relationships", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 1313-1328. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-10-2019-0326

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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