It’s no secret that youth are usually the first demographic to embrace new technologies and media. Older communicators often struggle with changing tools, causing them to hire younger staff to engage with these tools.
As time has progressed social and mobile media have become critical components of the modern marketing mix. In turn, Generation X and Baby Boomer marketing and PR pros have been forced to embrace new media. Learning these tools can be difficult, but co-workers — yes, the very same junior staff hired to “handle” social media — can help.
Be smart about this. One primary characteristic of millennial generation is a desire to be included and treated respectfully. Young co-workers want access to executives, and choose work environments where they can build something together.
Embracing them fulfills these needs while helping your older staff adjust. In addition, youth are missing the value experience brings. Reverse mentoring leverages both work groups strengths, and cross pollinates them.
Here are five reverse mentoring techniques to empower young staff members to help their co-workers learn next generation media tools:
1) Build Technology or Media Task Forces
We know how important technology and media are becoming to businesses. Build a task force charged with leading the company into the future. Populate it with a healthy mix of youth, communications team members and appropriate senior executives. Make sure your committee has a clear mission and structure to achieve your business outcomes.
2) Give Millennials Progressive Roles
Do more than put millennials on the committee. While it’s a great first step, you may want to assign leadership roles to those that demonstrate initiative.
Group chair, lead social media trainer, corporate ambassador to local tech/social events, etc. are all great ways to empower millennials with positions of worth in the company. Make sure you mentor first timers so they can succeed in these roles. Professionalism and leadership skills cannot be assumed.
3) Provide Reverse Training Opportunities
If you have an organization of twenty or more, it’s likely that members from the entire company are struggling with new media. Create training opportunities across the company, and have your younger team lead them. Show them how to coach others and build great presentations, perhaps even provide them speaker training.
4) Offer Access to Executives
Executives need to know how technology is changing the way customers interact with brands. Millennials want access to leadership. You can fulfill both stakeholder groups by allowing your Task Force members to brief the executive team on its findings. Or invite executives to the committee so they can ask and answer questions. This doesn’t have to be an every week occurrence, but do it periodically so both groups benefit from each other.
5) Social and UX Roles
Another way to embrace younger team members’ familiarity and knowledge with technology is to let them take lead roles in relevant work areas. For example, let millennials manage social communities, provide feedback on the online user experience, and make technology suggestions for corporate IT.
Like the other steps, be proactive and mentor your younger team members. For example, don’t leave the team out on the social web without immediate access to more seasoned senior executives who can handle an online crisis or customer service issues.
What reverse mentoring tips would you add?
This post ran originally on the Vocus blog. Featured image by ITUPictures. I am on vacation until September 30 and will not be commenting. The floor is yours!