We mostly talk about mentoring as something for a senior to a junior, or how a new employee can learn from those more experienced. But in this fast-changing landscape of new technology and digital innovation, is this still what we need? Don’t we need to think outside the box on mentoring in the future?
Maybe this is a perfect time for the senior to learn from the junior.
The younger generations have technology at their fingertips, as most of them now are born after the smartphone was launched. They are not afraid of using or trying new technology – and they are not afraid of failing in the process. Meanwhile, I know plenty of people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s that are afraid of change and have a pretty fixed mindset. They cling on to the old, and hope that the world will not change so fast that they cannot keep up. This is a very restrictive mindset, that is holding us back.
We need to be acting to the needs of the users, the consumers, in order to be relevant for future buyers.
We need mentoring relationships where the new teaches the old, and that forces the digital transformation into a much higher speed. What better way to do that, than through a well-known and trusted way like in a mentor-mentee relationship. Then both parties learn – and in addition, companies move at a faster speed in adopting new technology.
When companies are slow movers, it puts a much higher risk on digital innovation than what we would like. The need for change is urgent, and we cannot let the transformation be slowed down because CEO’s and leaders are more comfortable hanging on to the old ways of doing business and keep doing things the “safe” old way.
Let’s take Cloud for instance: it’s not “high” risk move anymore – it has become a commodity. People want to buy products as a service, having the flexibility to buy as much as they need, when they need it. But companies and leaders everywhere still think “old” is better, and don’t understand that they are losing business every day, because they keep offering products in the same “old” ways.
I have been fortunate to have great mentors in my working life. Each has taught me things about their profession and their expertise so that I can benefit from their knowledge. In return, I am a mentor for several young leaders, each unique in their need for my input. What I get in return from them is a new understanding of their thinking, their values, and on what foundations they make their choices; whether it’s choice of workplace, career, consumption or information.
I learn equally from my mentees as I do from my mentors. And, I feel blessed to be forced to keep up with their fast-paced environment and thinking.
Every company should prioritize mentor relationships. If we can use the expertise and thinking of young people to drive the digital innovation and transformation at a faster speed – there is only upside.
In my opinion, it is essential that experience and knowledge is shared, and that we are being challenged on our thoughts and beliefs, and that we learn new ways. That way we can move much faster forward in this world of technology, innovation, and leadership.