In Carol’s recent post on the Nextiva blog, she makes the case that mentoring doesn’t always happen to the subordinate. In “How Mentorship Goes Both Ways – Management and Employees Should Learn from Each Other” Carol begins:

For many reasons, I generally believe in the concept of the 5 Minute Mentor more than the traditional concept of mentorship. It may be possible, but it’s seldom practical or effective for a knowledgeable person to take someone’s hand over a long time period to guide them toward a successful future. I also believe that mentorship is often a two-way street.

Managers and employees fare best when they learn from each other. The following four principles explain how to encourage an environment where learning flows freely in all directions.

1. A good relationship drives mutual learning

When you talk with your employees, does it usually seem like a monologue? You can’t create relationships from the podium in a lecture hall. Even in school, students learn best from the teachers who interact with them in more friendly and personal ways.

Employees don’t always freely open up around department managers, much less officers of the company. However, a closer relationship empowers your personnel to open up with questions and ideas that can make a real difference to the business. Draw them out, if you need to; some general chit-chat or a joke or two creates a pleasant and informal work environment that opens the doors to mutual learning.

2. Information flows both ways

Most teachers would tell you that they learn as much from their students as the students learn from them. You can do the same, as long as you are prepared to catch the words of wisdom that unexpectedly emanate from your employees.

You can read the rest of the post here.