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Readers Write: Why Reverse Mentoring is Beneficial for HIT Employees

August 15, 2016 Readers Write 2 Comments

Why Reverse Mentoring is Beneficial for HIT Employees
By Frank Myeroff

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Reverse mentoring is when seasoned HIT professionals are paired with and mentored by the younger Millennial generation for the reasons of being extremely tech savvy, fast to adopt new technology, and not afraid of trying new things. In addition, it helps to bridge the gap between generations.

Reverse mentoring was introduced in the 1990s by Jack Welch, chairman and CEO of General Electric at that time. While it’s not exactly new, it’s gaining popularity fast. More and more organizations are recognizing the value of reverse mentoring and are developing formalized programs to ensure best practices in order to yield success. They believe that Millennials are well suited as mentors to help maximize HIT use and adoption in order to move organizations forward in this digital age.

Additionally, with the ever-changing landscape of technology and tools used in the HIT field, reverse mentorship can be extremely beneficial:

  • Young, fresh talent has a chance to share their skills, knowledge, and fresh perspectives with more senior employees. Hospitals and health systems often look for their HIT professionals to use technology to improve patient care, lower costs, and increase efficiency. This means that the latest technology is routinely sought. Organizations know that tech savvy younger generations will catch on to this quickly, presenting an opportunity for them to share their knowledge with a different generation. Not only HIT systems, but also technology and platforms such as social media could be unique topics for Millennials to share information and ideas on.
  • Creates a way for separate generations to build working relationships with one another. Reverse mentorship can help junior HIT employees feel more needed, confident and comfortable communicating with higher-up employees working together on projects or even in meetings. Additionally, this could create more cohesion in the workplace and begin to break down perceived barriers and stereotypes of each generation.
  • Gives junior employees a higher sense of purpose in the organization. Implementing a reverse mentorship program gives young HIT professionals a sense of empowerment and the idea that they are making an impactful contribution to the company. This in turn, could help increase retention and help to shape future leaders in the organization.
  • Continues to provide ways for senior employees to share their knowledge as well. Although called reverse mentorship, this type of program offers a two-way street for employees of all ages to learn from one another. Experienced professionals in the HIT field are able to share their insights and knowledge, in addition to learning new things.

While reverse mentorship can be extremely beneficial in the HIT industry and especially any industry with a tech focus, there are several conditions this type of relationship depends upon:

  • Trust. Each person needs to trust the other and put effort into bettering both careers.
  • Open mindedness. In a reverse mentorship, both employees will act as a mentor and a mentee and need to show a willingness to teach, but also a willingness to learn.
  • Expectations and rules. It will be important for both parties in the mentorship to communicate what they are looking to get from the relationship as well as staying committed to the process.

Reverse mentorship is an innovative way to bring together generations of employees to share knowledge. In addition, today’s Millennial mentors will be tomorrow’s chief healthcare officers. We will depend on them to lead the IT department and create strategies on how to handle the growing amount of digital data for healthcare workers and new ways to support technologically advanced patient care modalities.

Frank Myeroff is president of Direct Consulting Associates of Cleveland, OH.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. I suspect many of us ‘older IT people’ have kids that are in their teens and 20’s who can also provide us with some insight into new technologies and social media tools they’re familiar with. I know that my four kids (20, 22, 24 & 26) have all exposed me to a lot of things that I would not have otherwise experienced. Certainly there are a lot to benefitsd/things that the author Frank mentions that my kids can’t help with but I bet many of us with kids who grew up with technology could learn a lot without even leaving our home.

  2. Not sure I am totally on board with the “Mentoring” terminology. A mentor is traditionally an experienced person giving wise guidance to a new person. This upends the relationship and clearly it is meant to do that.

    In so doing however, you risk devaluing the seniority and experience of the long-term staffer. That’s a political faux pas that isn’t going to be helpful.

    Maybe instead of referring to this as mentoring, call it a meeting of the minds, or a Birds Of a Feather (BOF) session, or something. If you want to influence long-term staff by getting them some new perspective, new technology and new energy, that’s a much more limited goal than the usual mentoring relationship. And it does not run the risk of offending your senior staff.







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