Reverse Mentoring

What is it?

Reverse mentoring is an opportunity for organisations to hear the voices at all levels and to really start to access a rich diversity of thinking to make positive changes. Organisations are often seen and experienced as ‘triangular hierarchies’ whereby decision-making, strategic direction and plans to develop are made at the narrowest part of the triangle. This entrenched behaviour often leaves the minimum number of people, usually the board or executive team giving all the direction, and even if there is a will to change this it falls short at the ‘how’.

Our programme supports the disruption of the normal flow of a top down approach and enables the organisation to harness the potential of its people and their cognitive abilities and strengths. Growing evidence shows that diverse teams and organisations thrive and perform better than just talented homogenous teams and therefore in order to perform better we need a way of utilising the full and broad range of diversity.

There are many benefits associated with reverse mentoring, it can help to remove and overcome groupthink, avoiding expert overconfidence, which is often reported as a barrier to change and innovation. It can allow many different perspectives and processes to really evaluate how an organisation works and whether its aims and strategic objectives or being lived out. As well as understanding change in a culture it can encourage people to feel more included and part of the solution rather than simply a workforce.

Reverse mentoring can lead to better decision-making allowing for healthy debate that encourages new insights and consequently people to change. Developing a reverse mentoring programme can help demonstrate that organisations are committed to diversity and inclusion which is not simply a tick box exercise but a true way of embracing and embedding it at its core values and creating a culture of healthy debate, challenge, openness and transparency, all the markers for a high quality, safe, compassionate and caring organisation whereby staff feel included and want to contribute.

Delivery Model

In order for reverse mentoring to be successful it needs to be embedded and commitment given to make it a success. Reverse mentoring can be embedded internally through an organisation or can be used more system wide to really start to harness the thinking much more widely across sectors within health and care, offering a more systems thinking and leadership approach.

‘Diversity isn’t a form of political correctness, but an insurance policy against internally generated blindness that leaves institutions exposed and out of touch’
Margaret Heffernan

The programme is delivered as follows:

Successful identification of individuals for the programme will be supported by the ILN with production and supply of application forms and guidance document to carry out the matching process

A one-day workshop delivery for information and training on reverse mentoring will be delivered and include sessions covering, thought diversity, inclusion, goal settings, managing expectations and business challenges.

The ILN will continual support your organisation through action learning sets facilitated by a member of the team. Action learning sets will vary between mentor only and mentee only and also full groups to offer full support to both groups.

In addition, the ILN will work with you to co-design and supply template relationship contracts, and an outcomes framework to maximise impact.

A member of the ILN will be assigned to your organisation as a point of contact and regular dialogue with the executive sponsor is presumed.

Key Outcomes


  • A greater ability to tune into the need of the workforce
  • Demonstrable recognition that diversity is taken seriously
  • A workforce that feels more engaged and listened to
  • Senior personnel feel connect to real life perspectives
  • New insights create new ideas, direction and action
  • Hard to hear realities become essential insights needed by both parties
  • New ideas to address old problems can emerge from conversations

Individual Participants

  • Participants will have an increased and broader understanding of the vision and strategy of their organisation
  • Will enable a sense of feeling valued, included and well led
  • Engaged staff are more motivated staff
  • Confidence building
  • Exposure and opportunity to show case talents and skills which could otherwise go undiscovered.
  • Increased connection to the organisation through empowerment and innovation

For reverse mentoring to be successful there are a number of elements that need to be in place, including:

  • Senior support, endorsement and understanding of the benefits of reverse mentoring from the board/executive of organisations
  • Both mentors and mentees undertake training in how to participate in reverse mentoring to exploit its benefits
  • Mentor and Mentees need to go through a structured matching process Benefits are acknowledged by individuals and organisations and where appropriate disclosed and celebrated
  • Recruitment of individuals and expansion of any programme is constant over a minimum of twelve months ensure embedding into organisations (and avoids it being a one off limited gesture)