When it comes to mentorship, we often think of senior executives mentoring younger employees. But in my experience, senior executives can benefit greatly from having a young person as a mentor too. In fact, cross-generational mentoring can be highly valuable for both parties, providing a fresh perspective and a deeper understanding of the changing landscape of business. 

Harvard Business School referred to the importance of listening to younger employers and creating shadow boards in an article published in 2019. We have seen this argument grow and evolve throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with organisations having to adapt and implement technologies Millennials and Gen Zs have been both using and shouting about for some time. 

There is a growing need for senior executives to expand their knowledge of the new technologies that are becoming increasingly widespread, and the way to do that is by onboarding the support of young mentors. This not only benefits senior executives but also helps to build highly valuable cross-generational relationships, with a myriad of benefits for both parties. Here are five of the biggest ones that I’ve observed through our experience at Participation People.


1. Gaining insights into new technologies and trends

Young people are often at the forefront of new technologies and trends and can provide valuable insights into how these developments can be applied to businesses. By adopting cross-generational mentoring through the support of youth voices, senior executives can gain a deeper understanding of emerging technologies and trends, and how they can be leveraged to improve business outcomes. See here to find out how you can implement the Lundy Model into your organisation.


2. Developing a deeper understanding of the needs and preferences of younger employees and customers

Having a young mentor can also help senior executives develop a better understanding of the needs and preferences of the younger employees and customers they work with. This can be particularly valuable in industries where younger generations are a key demographic, as it can help businesses stay relevant and competitive whilst becoming more targeted with their approach.


3. Fostering a culture of learning and growth

Through cross-generational mentoring, senior executives can foster a culture of learning and growth within their organisations that works to promote a workplace culture where all voices have the right to be heard. This can help create a more innovative, productive and dynamic workplace without barriers, where employees are encouraged to explore new ideas and ways of thinking, to grow their confidence and overall levels of employee happiness and satisfaction.


4. Gaining a fresh perspective on business challenges

A young mentor can offer a fresh perspective on business challenges, helping senior executives to see things from a new angle to paint a clearer and more holistic picture of pain points that need addressing. This can be particularly valuable in industries undergoing rapid change, where traditional ways of thinking may no longer be effective and a pivot in strategy is needed to stay relevant and purposeful for the end user.


5. Developing leadership skills

By having a young mentor, senior executives can also develop their leadership skills, building on important attributes such as empathy, communication, and adaptability, which are essential for leading diverse and dynamic teams in any organisation. Providing cross-generational mentoring run by youth voices experts creates an opportunity for young people to build their skills and confidence too, especially within professional settings where they previously may not have had the opportunity to gain experience, which is hugely rewarding for both sides.


What have we learnt?

Organisations work better when youth voices are heard, and cross-generational mentoring is a simple yet effective way to make that happen. Having a young mentor can have big business benefits for senior executives, and it can be a rewarding – sometimes even enlightening experience for all involved. 

With so many benefits to reap, let’s work together to create more inclusive and dynamic workplaces where cross-generational learning is valued and embraced.

If you want to know more about cross-generational mentoring, we’re here to help. Get in touch to discover the ways we can gather insights from young people to inspire the innovation you need.

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