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Old dogs need new tricks too. How about mentoring me kiddo?

Ever wondered how mid-level and senior professionals keep tabs on emerging technology trends? In today’s world where technology you use in the morning becomes obsolete by evening, how do they cope with such rapid change? How do they learn? Who teaches them? And do they really understand the crux of the matter? I am positive that a good chunk of the population in this group in focus has limitations here!

I must also confess I am a permanent member of this pitiable group being constantly challenged by gizmos and thingamajigs with apps and drop down menus that make me wonder who actually uses them and for what purpose. But rather than put a brave face and go to the nearest electronics shop or your well-informed associate for professional guidance, I try to surf or read the manual to fumble my way through and end up using devices for basic application. What a wasted investment just to keep my pride intact!
However, it seems there is light at the end of the tunnel for me and my clones. It is now a popular practice within large corporates to have reverse mentoring in the workplace. Popularised by Jack Welch at GE, we hear HR professionals in India these days proudly talk about enforcing this as an org best practice. Under this banner, office ‘seniors’ are bundled with ‘freshers’ to learn from them about select topics which only the youth today seems to be so comfortable with. Technology for one.
This is a pretty rewarding trend as both sides benefit a lot: the older employees get to learn about emerging matters without being too challenged by their complexity and variety, and also get to spend time with younger employees who they may be otherwise oblivious to in the normal way of work. On the other side, the youngsters benefit from some mentoring they are bound to get from their ‘mentees’ and the smarter ones will surely climb up the career ladder faster than the norm. Other benefits – positive impact on org culture, employer branding and so on. So, it could be one happy situation – where technology flourishes and HR thrives. Worth replicating across all kinds of organisations.
That being said, not all my fellow-members of the pitiable group are fortunate enough to work in such corporates with best practices to envy. So, for the likes of those, my suggestion would be to talk to your teenaged kid or the neighbourhood kid and sign up for those informal sessions. Don’t doubt their knowledge. Rather, treat them as experts. Visit http://www.tech-pundit.blogspot.in/ – and you can see how this blog by a teen justifies my recommendation. A school kid, he is a tech guru and a regular advisor to adults too! I for one benefitted from his tips when I bought my smartphone and laptop.
Let us keep aside our inhibitions and hierarchical attitudes and enjoy the flow!

(Written by Sukanya Badri, Hexagram Business Solutions)