Mentoring is a great way to gain new skills and tackle new ground while being supported by someone with experience. But at Bosch Rexroth we also believe there is a huge amount to be gained by flipping the traditional way of doing things on its head. And so our Reverse Mentoring program was born – empowering the more junior members of the company to impart their skills and perspectives to those with more professional experience. Read on to see how the program is benefiting our employees, our business and our customers.
This is the brainchild of Bosch Rexroth junior talents, who were asked to ‘hold a mirror’ to the organization in order to give constructive feedback on our working culture. The program turns the traditional idea of a mentoring scheme upside down, by encouraging an experienced team leader or manager to learn from a younger professional.
This program empowers and encourages younger associates to directly exchange with middle and upper management, building a relationship around skill sharing and professional development – for both sides.
We believe that every time we have a conversation with someone, we learn something. We also gain insight into how we work as individuals. This makes mentoring equally beneficial for both the mentor and the mentee.
The Reverse Mentoring program invites members of senior management (mentee) to access the skills from a younger generation on a regular basis – within a structured and purposeful format. On the other hand, the young mentor is empowered to speak up with questions or ideas. The possibility that one’s perspective might create a positive impact on the organization is a great motivator.
Reverse mentoring is very simple in terms of organization and relies on self-management by the participants. Every employee who is enthusiastic about the program can be added to the community.
There mentees can find mentors that cover topics on everything from digitalization and diversity, to social media or new work culture. They can contact potential mentors from this network and set up a meeting, either in person or face-to-face.
We asked three mentor-mentee teams.
“I felt very comfortable in my role as a mentor for Enno. He was always open to new suggestions, and it was fun to discuss with him the possible differences between generations and what motivates young people. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent the interests of my generation. For me, this is clearly an important step for our ongoing corporate culture development. Reverse Mentoring enabled us to build a bridge between generations.”
“In our fast-paced world, which is heavily influenced by social networks, new technologies and digital natives, it has never been more important to keep up with new developments. Therefore, reaching out to younger people is key for our business success. Through the meetings with Frederik, I gained important insights for my daily work in managing change and transformation of the business towards digitalization and new ways of collaborating. Another major finding was that purpose, mastery and autonomy – the typical driving forces – have not changed completely over time. They just appear in different guises.”
“I found Reverse Mentoring to be very empowering. In being able to share my insight and have it viewed as valuable information, I felt like what I had to say mattered – and I had the opportunity to make a difference and impact the company in a positive way. This led to me feeling more confident in my day-to-day working life.
It also made me even more attentive to identifying opportunities for improvement around me. I started looking for things that would help make the company more appealing to younger generations and thought about how we could improve the company culture to create an even better work environment. The fact that upper management is open to feedback and willing to make changes shows me how much they care about their employees.”
“For me, Reverse Mentoring was very enlightening and an opportunity to gain valuable perspectives and insights. By giving younger employees a voice and being open to new ideas, we can understand what makes the company more attractive to the younger, more diverse generation. Together, we can drive the culture change further to create an even better work environment.”
“The Reverse Mentoring program was exciting – neither of us knew what the result would be. We had little barriers in the beginning, like not being in the same location or even time zone. But we managed to overcome these because we both wanted it to be a beneficial experience. In the end we managed to meet face-to-face in Singapore, which was very productive.
Our agreed topic was ‘how to have a winning team’. We discussed how a winning team works from a junior perspective, as well as how this could apply to other environments at Bosch Rexroth. We also talked about how the different ways people communicate in an organization could be part of its success.”
“Although meeting online works, it was great to meet Kevin face-to-face in Singapore. This promotes trust and he was able to gain an even better insight into my day-to-day work.
The initiative is a great way to get valuable insights and a fresh perspective, which benefits both parties. It also helps us maintain good connections within the Bosch Rexroth business and get a better understanding of different cultures. By being open-minded and willing to learn new things from outside my area, Reverse Mentoring taught me a lot.”