June 6 Breakout: Reverse Mentoring
Reverse mentoring is a leadership development program that pairs senior executives with (much) younger employees so that the senior member is mentored by the younger to foster an understanding of how the younger generation of employees thinks and acts. It is also a great way for the senior member to learn about social media, demand-drivers of the younger, and other factors they may not be much in tune with due to generational differences. Pershing put together an excellent panel of people with direct experience in reverse mentoring consisting of Moderator: JamiLynn Cimino, Vice President, Pershing, Lisa Bonner, Head of Enterprise Analytics Change Management & Communications, Cigna, Mike Row, Chief Relationship Officer, Pershing, and Alicia Saka, Business Operations Manager, Moss Adams LLP. The executive summary is that reverse mentoring (RM) in their experience worked as hoped, but there on some major points to consider. Thank you Pershing for allowing me to report on this and the other great subjects at this premier success-minded advisor event.
Here are some takeaways:
Lisa – RM is about “building trust, building connectedness. Seeing where the next ideas come from.” It was noted that good leaders are willing to look everywhere for the next great idea, referring to Jack Welch in 1999 pulling his younger staff together so he could understand the internet.
Alicia – It was important to “get someone in my corner who was a champion… Get a sponsor and tie to a business strategy of the firm. Wait for the right moment.”
JamiLynn – She echoed Alicia. “It is essential to have a Senior Executive and a young member in partnership to champion the effort.”
Mike – On why do this: at Pershing, “the program is not an end, it is a mechanism to accelerate change. It is a way to facilitate communication. Fostering internal communication is a good way to get people talking. Trust building starts the relationship that can grow.”
Leadership is about building trust and RM does that. These comments about RM reminded me of Comey earlier: “Somehow I’ve got to get people around me that see things differently.” Leadership is also about recruiting and retaining good people and JamiLynn commented that RM is a great tool for this. Alicia agreed, “We have pretty bad retention at a certain level… WE are losing talent. We wanted to give them another incentive to stay. RM has been a great way for top performers to find needed engagement.” Alicia is referring to a great outcome of RM: Senior mentees can unofficially reverse the roles by finding engaging work, many times not part of the younger employee’s job description, that is interesting and challenging. Leaders (should) know that fostering Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCB) generally results in lower voluntary turnover. RM itself is a form of OCB.
Lisa – On online presence and social media, RM provided a means for leaders to learn “how our employees are using it, how our competitors are using it. I saw how quickly these new ideas could be applied to make a difference.”
Mike – “Senior management creates a resource, a pool of talent (that) fosters that availability of knowledge… It creates tangible evidence that we an organization trying to grow” which impresses their client firms. However, “it is important for the mentee (Senior) to let the mentor drive.” As a mentee, I found that “having to explain what I am doing clarifies the issues.”
Some tips included:
- If a pairing doesn’t seem to be working, give them a business case to solve together. This creates the agenda for the next few meetings.
- Meet regularly, say once a month, for 9 months. The mentor creates the agenda. Make sure the mentee’s assistant is informed of what is needed as this can help the mentee stay on task.
- Mentors need to check their ego at the door and be respectful; they need to spend time getting to know their mentee. They may need coaching on this. Mentors may also need coaching on letting the mentor manage the meetings.
- Meetings are best in person, but chat, skype, gotomeeting can work, just are not as successful. However, some organizations are scattered geographically and this is the only way to be inclusive in an RM program.
Mike – “Let’s have a conversation that moves the ball forward for both of us” is the right attitude.
Lisa – “It’s about building trust. It is about building connectiveness. (It is) a paradigm shift – the next great idea can come from anywhere. It’s fun… you will laugh.”
RM is not for the faint of heart, but the payoff in ideas, retention, productivity, and fun can be worth it. Pershing has a white paper of the subject: https://information.pershing.com/rs/651-GHF-471/images/per-reversing-the-generation-equation.pdf .
June 6. General Session. Pershing Management Discussion.
Lisa Dolly, Chief Executive Officer, Pershing and Jim Crowley, Chief Operating Officer, Pershing were very candid about the purpose of Pershing and how they go about leading the organization towards that purpose. One interesting fact is that Lisa and Jim share an office. I don’t know how they decide whose turn it is to get coffee, but the cultural marker of this is significant. Note that throughout the conference as I had informal discussions with Pershing executives and line-employees this idea of shared responsibility made real by the shared space permeates. Everyone was working in the same direction: how can they help their client firms succeed? As Jim noted, you have “transparency and accountability when you share an office.” Jim mentioned some key tools for firms such as Salesforce integration using the CRM seamlessly to serve firm clients through data integration and communication.
MoneyGuidePro likewise is fully integrated for planning and report generation with NetX360® updating data real-time. The goal is to have NetX360® morph to NetXWealth to “pull in all tools… to do the work with managed investments. We will have It built on a client-centric model.” Client-centric is important as that is how firms visualize their business, by client not by account.
Lisa explained that “using data to create better user experience” is the future. Using the client data at Pershing provides the power to “create a better user experience… Self-service was an important concept to deliver… (it) allows control to be in the hands of the user.” Pershing is guided by the reality that many clients want control in their own hands for many activities. This is good for firms as well as it frees their staff time to concentrate on delivering intellectual capital that enhances the relationship. All-in-all an impressive leadership team hitting on many of the qualities associated with positive organizational outcomes. Jim Comey was next on. Stay tuned.