s evidenced by our upcoming report, our nine-month reverse mentoring pilot scheme has demonstrably benefited both its participating mentees and mentors. However, apart from resulting in better-educated and empowered employees, can a case be made for overall improvement to business performance from reverse mentoring?
For the pilot scheme, we targeted medium to larger ACE members as we felt they would have a larger talent pool of interested employees. We were also delighted to see all levels at our participant companies get involved. Mentors and mentees received support from company boards, individual business units and HR teams to help monitor the effectiveness of the programme.
However, as the pilot only finished in March 2018 and was limited in size and scope, it is still too early to establish the success of reverse mentoring on employee retention and long-term changes in company culture. This also extends to potentially assessing the impact of reverse mentoring against company or business unit KPIs.
What we do know is that the participants fed into internal discussions and the pilot featured on board agendas. The programme’s success was such that all participant companies have indicated they will be continuing reverse mentoring in some shape or form.
Added to this is the fact that I have been made aware of at least another four large ACE member consultancies that have also initiated reverse mentoring programmes and are even expanding their activities in this space. It is probably safe to say that reverse mentoring is here to stay and will eventually become an integral part of our businesses.
Once reverse mentoring schemes are commonplace, I am hoping that appropriate metrics will be created and monitored in the context of the corporate plan of an organisation. This could then feature in benchmarking activities.
While I believe we have demonstrated a strong business case for reverse mentoring for medium, mid-size and large companies, a significant number of organisations are missing out, namely smaller SMEs.
Collaboration across the supply chain is huge in our industry. ACE members are used to working together to deliver projects, but SMEs are sometimes excluded from this owing to their size, putting them at disadvantage in many procurement scenarios. They also tend to have an older workforce and, outside of the larger cities, struggle to hire the skills they need. Could some form of cross-company reverse mentoring be the solution and provide SMEs with the talent, enthusiasm and capacity to engage the procurement process? I see no reason why not, especially when the emerging professionals will be accessing a unique source of skills, experience and knowledge.
The emergence of a more collaborative framework could see SMEs up-skilling not only their knowledge and use of technology, but also their thinking on equality, diversity and inclusive issues. Reverse mentoring has the ability to deliver wins for all involved across the industry, no matter their size.
Find out more about Skills Summit 2018. Download the reverse mentoring report below.
Anil Iyer was previously COO at ACE.
ACE's Progress Network is now known as ACE Emerging Professionals. The group is sponsored by Mott MacDonald.