Top 6 Reasons You Need a "Reverse Mentoring" Program at Your Dealership
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
You may recall having a mentor while in school, or perhaps on the job.
That person was undoubtedly an older individual, tasked with teaching you years of accumulated life lessons.
But what if the roles were swapped and the younger person was the mentor?
The concept is called “reverse mentoring”, and it’s quickly gaining popularity across the country.
It’s particularly useful in dealerships, which almost always employee people of all age groups and walks of life.
You may be thinking there’s no way you’re going to let a twenty-year-old lot tech mentor a sales manager.
But don’t be so hasty.
There’s a lot to be gained from reverse mentoring.
Benefits of reverse mentoring
First of all, reverse mentoring isn’t just a younger person mentoring an older individual. It’s more of a two-way street, where both employees share experiences and grow together. Also, the pairing doesn’t have to be about age. Instead, the matchup could be a junior employee and a seasoned worker.
These are some of the ways the process can benefit employees at your dealership:
1. Stay up to date with technology
Certainly, not all millennials are tech wizards, nor do all baby boomers struggle with digital media. But, younger people typically tend to stay more in touch with the latest trends. Once adult life (i.e. a family and career) takes hold, many people don’t have the time or passion for keeping up with what’s in vogue.
Young people who are up-to-date make great technology mentors. If your seasoned employees struggle with digital media or some other modern technology, pair them with a millennial who’s in the know.
2. Increased empathy and respect
All too often, older people think millennials are lazy, and millennials think their elders are clueless. These unfounded stereotypes will continue unless the two groups get to know each other personally.
Pairing a younger mentor with an older mentee forms a bond that leads to increased empathy and respect. When you know someone well, and consider them your friend, you automatically understand and appreciate them more.
3. Greater diversity
Most people tend to mingle with their peers whom they feel more comfortable with. So, without a little guidance, millennials and older people may never interact much with one another.
And that’s a problem. Individuals who only work with those like themselves, day in and day out, don’t get exposed to new thoughts. Pairing different age groups together in a mentor situation increases diversity and the flow of ideas.
4. Preparation for the future
Regardless of whether you’re comfortable with it or not, millennials are the future of business, and of our country. Even if the younger person is the mentor and not the mentee, they still stand to learn a lot from the older person. Plus, the junior worker will gain confidence knowing they can be of assistance to a senior employee. That self-assurance may help propel them into a future management role.
5. Financial savings
You could spend money on outside training, or you could use a resource from within your own company: your employees. Each has something to share, regardless of their age. Relying on workers for mentorship and education can save a lot of money. Plus, in many cases, the results are just as good – if not better – than paid external help.
6. A break from the ordinary
For senior employees, training newbies all the time can get tiresome. Many will appreciate sharing the educator position. They may also enjoy getting the chance to learn something new.
Reverse mentoring works in all dealership departments
The great thing about reverse mentoring is it works in all dealership departments from sales to service. For example, in the sales department, a younger employee may be able to show an older person how to better navigate the dealership’s “digital showroom”. Meanwhile, the seasoned worker can share with the junior a lifetime of sales tactics.
In service, a fresh tech may be able to share brand-new diagnostic strategies learned in trade school. The senior employee, on the other hand, can provide years of accumulated trouble-shooting strategies.
Whether its race, gender or age, diversity always brings something more to the table. Mentoring is just another way of promoting different viewpoints to help your dealership grow.