Jul 19, 2010

Reverse Mentoring the Social Organization

Rawn Shah of IBM shines the spotlight on what I consider a critical aspect of driving Organization 2.0 - the generational gap- in his Forbes article Why You Must Network With Your Younger Employees
Leaders who connect to mentees in an enterprise 2.0 network can stay in touch with them more easily, understand their strengths and offer them more opportunities. They can mentor on an ambient level, openly broadcasting their ideas, knowledge and help for mentees or anyone to consider, by sharing their thoughts on micro-blog systems, and they can receive feedback the same way.

There is no free lunch. Mentees may take to Facebook easily but still find social networking awkward at work. In surveys and interviews of interns and new hires, I have frequently heard that they don't see the value of that kind of connection in the workplace. But the reasons why lie less with them than with organizational culture.

When you're new to an organization, your relationship networks are usually limited and have little built-in trust. Millennials who converse freely with their friends socially are often told at work to stay strictly work-focused. This can limit the depth of their conversations and keep them from developing trust and extensive networks.

Personally I think this piece is critical for organizations to focus on.

When GE wanted to teach its leaders technology - it opted for a reverse mentoring program. And I think this is the way social software will need to be kick-started to make an organization social.