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Commentary Detail

Mentoring - Now a 2 Way Street Between Older and Younger Workers
Commentary by: Anna Navarro
Aired January 26, 2009

We usually think of mentors as people who are older than we are. But given how fast the world is changing, seasoned workers today can often benefit from mentoring by their younger colleagues.

Madge joined a small advertising agency in her hometown shortly after graduating from college. She expected to be a gofer, but she soon discovered she had more to offer.

Her first week on the job she was invited to listen in on a brainstorming session where the project team was discussing new ways to reach young consumers. As she listened, she realized she knew more about blogging than anyone on the team. Later she mentioned to her supervisor that she had written a blog for a time, and that she read several blogs every day.

She was promptly added to the project team as a working member and found herself tutoring co-workers with many years seniority about the finer points of blogging. From them she learned about developing the larger marketing strategy, but she taught them about new communications approaches. The learning process became a two-way street.

We've long been aware of the benefits of seniors mentoring juniors, but awareness of the benefits going the other direction is just beginning to emerge in the workplace. Two-way mentoring between older and younger colleagues can be very beneficial to both groups. Older workers would be wise to begin cultivating those mentoring relationships with younger people, just as younger people have for years with their seniors.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Anna Navarro

Anna Navarro


Anna Navarro is the founder of Work Transitions, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their work.


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