cover photo Reflect Blog
Ingo Kallenbach

Reverse Mentoring in personnel development

Sustainable effects through cross-generational learning - How to fill knowledge gaps by using internal expertise and drive the digital transformation of your company forward
Digitalization and the increasing use of new technologies in the world of work demand additional knowledge from both employees and managers. It is not unusual for older colleagues in particular to lack knowledge of digital technologies. To fill these gaps in knowledge, companies such as Lufthansa, IBM and Telekom rely on reverse mentoring.

Learn more about the requirements and effects of reverse mentoring and how you can use this program for your company's successful digital transformation.

"Reverse Mentoring" - What is it?

Especially in traditional companies, older employees often lack the basic know-how about digital technologies such as apps or social media platforms. However, these technologies have an enormous impact on a company's competitiveness today. Since the generation of "digital natives" has reached working age, new opportunities have opened up to pass on knowledge in the form of "reverse mentoring". The conventional mentoring concept is being reversed. The younger generation brings with it experience in dealing with digital technologies and passes this on to the older generation. In reverse mentoring, the young employees are the ones who coach the older and higher hierarchical colleagues. This program is based on the fundamental assumption that the opposite is positive and promising. The learning partners should differ in age, hierarchy and, if possible, gender. The programs can take place in a regular exchange or be limited to a certain period of time, for example in connection with a change process or management development programs. All topics related to the digital transformation of a company and the world of work should be covered.

New mentoring EN

Prerequisites for successful reverse mentoring

The "Reverse Mentoring" programme places high demands on a company's culture. This should above all be understood as part of an innovative, open and learning organisation. Employees must be prepared to embrace a new model of learning, as reverse mentoring fundamentally contradicts well-known principles. Traditionally, knowledge is passed from experienced people to inexperienced people. In this program, this principle is reversed. In order for reverse mentoring to be fully effective, companies must create a cultural framework in which relationships at eye level and community togetherness are taken for granted. The success factors of a healthy organization provide the optimal breeding ground for a successful, intergenerational exchange. In this context, the trust of the coached persons in their younger mentors and their willingness to learn from them are the most basic prerequisites for the practical implementation of "reverse mentoring". In order to build up such trust, an intensive preparatory phase is required. In advance, both the knowledge and experience of the mentors and the mentees must be checked and recorded. The clarification of the expectations of both sides is also important for the composition of successful "reverse mentoring" teams. Subsequently, an individual action plan can be drawn up according to the existing competencies, the experience horizon and the respective objectives.

Sustainable effects of reverse mentoring

In addition to the transfer of digital know-how and the exchange of experiences, informal learning in the form of the reflection of one's own behaviour towards others and the different perspectives of different generations plays a central role. Above all, the behaviour between employees and managers can be addressed and worked on in this context. Ideally, a lifelong learning partnership develops from the teams, in which the young employees in the role of mentors have just as much new learning experience as the experienced managers in the role of mentees. For younger employees, the reverse mentoring program can also be used to network within their company and to get to know colleagues from other departments. The programs also have the nice side effect of overcoming age and hierarchy differences and establishing an open cooperation that appreciates differences. This is not only a matter of purely business exchange, but also of benefiting from the knowledge of younger employees in everyday digital life. Innovative knowledge transfer - such as "reverse mentoring" - as a central principle of knowledge management in the company can ensure that the knowledge of employees is made visible and usable and that competitive advantages are generated in this way.


Through reverse mentoring, the potential of the young employees can be released and made usable for the entire company. In addition, the programme offers more than just further training on digital topics. The programme can be a first step towards a common learning culture and thus towards a healthy organisation.

(Editorial implementation: Corinna Brucker)

Are you interested in reserve mentoring or would you like to learn more about a healthy organisation and lifelong learning? If so, please feel free to find out more about our services in this area or simply contact us.