Monday, September 26, 2016

Reverse Mentoring

“Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report. Run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can't make head or tail out of it.”

So spoke Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx in Duck Soup if you’re a fan).

But these days you do not have to be the leader of Freedonia to get some help. Turns out millennials are happy to teach baby boomers a thing or two about such things as the integration of social media and crowd sourcing. They call it reverse mentoring when 18 to 35 year-old employees are paired with baby boomers in order to educate one another on business topics and new tools.

I think it’s a great idea, but then every time I’ve been stuck with a computer issue I’m the first one to say “Run out and get me a 12 year-old!” You have to stop and realize every so often that almost every baby boomer can remember when there was no internet. Millennials on the other hand, for the most part, think the internet has been there for their entire lives – and they would be correct in that assumption.

Millennials will make up half the workforce by 2020 so I’m thinking I want to be on their good side. Not only do they have some good information and techniques to pass on, they will be footing my social security payments. Honestly, I feel capable of keeping up with most new developments in social media now, but 2, 3 or 4 years from now, it may be a much different story. You start to have visions of impatient youth trying to get technical concepts through to our brains. Remember trying to explain AOL’s modem and the concept of email to your own parents? That’s right. That could be you trying to understand how a microchip tattoo on your wrist is going to replace your watch, your mobile phone and your fitbit. And don’t even get me started on the retina implant that will project films or the Uber car that’s going to show up without a driver.

Fasten your seatbelts because things are going to change and you may want your own millennial to help you make it through the storm.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.