INTERGENERATIONAL LEARNING -Generali mentoring programs
By Francesco Colombo
It’s very likely that we now have more generational diver sity in our workforce than ever before, with 4 generations (Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z) working in our or ganisation concurrently, and often on the same teams. In addition to this, the market’s and many companies’ focus on Diversity & Inclusion topics over the past few years call for greater importance to be given to the diversifcation of teams and employees, including age diversity.
Given this context, organizations cannot wait any longer to equip themselves to unlock the tremendous potential that this type of diversity can bring.
One pivotal aspect of this intergenerational exchange is intergenerational learning, which can be described as a “learning partnership based on reciprocity and mutuality, involving people of different ages, where the generations work together to gain skills, values and knowledge” (European Network for Intergenerational Learning).
Given this key learning process, Generali is determined to benefit from this opportunity by launching intergenerational programs that increase cooperation and interaction between generations, allow improved exchanges of key skills and experiences and foster reciprocal learning. These programs should also contribute to combating stereotypes, such as those expressed through ageism, which can be held by age groups toward one another, and to break down barriers that otherwise would be diffcult to overcome.
At Generali there are two mentoring programs for 2021 and 2022 that are designed for and aimed at our Group Talents, our key people across the group with high potential and a global mindset.
The initiatives address both the need to develop key competences in the Generali Group Talents and the need to engage people from different age groups within the organization. As intergenerational learning programs, these programs are designed to extract the best values and skills specifc to each generational group and to promote trust while exchanging knowledge and ideas, creating a great networking opportunity for the Talents involved.
The Global Mentoring Program
In May 2021 Generali started the new Global Mentoring Program dedicated to Group Talent Managers. This year marks the launch of the 4th edition of this ﬂagship Generali program, which involved approx. 400 employees. This year the initiative, which gathers dozens of managers worldwide, includes over 160 mentors and mentees and will last 12 months, with hour-long monthly sessions. The objective is to boost-managers’ leadership and managerial skills and improve their organizational capabilities. Managers act as mentees and are guided by Generali Leadership Group members, who act as mentors and offer expert advice on long-term career growth and development. The relationship between mentor and mentee is based on a mutual agreement to ensure reciprocal understanding and objectives alignment. As one mentor from last year’s edition said at the kick-off, the key to a great mentoring relationship is to “Start by fnding good and deep agreement with your mentor or your mentee so that you can really have honest and deep discussion”. From an intergenerational point of view, the program provides a unique networking opportunity for both managers and Leaders, who can work together in one-on-one sessions and exchange ideas and discuss topics such as career aspirations, development areas, and daily challenges, and it also facilitates intergenerational dialogue and understanding, as suggested by one of the mentees from the previous edition: “The first [thing] I learned is that age doesn’t matter, but it’s about the learning opportunities and the moments spent outside of our comfort zone”.
The Reciprocal Mentoring Program
Leveraging best practice sharing worldwide, Generali Group scaled up a project initially piloted by Generali Spain: the Reciprocal Mentoring Program. The initiative, involving over 500 participants, will engage Group Talent Senior Managers and the new Group Talent pool of Future Owners, young talents with a maximum of 7 years of experience. The program will involve Future Owners as mentees and Senior Managers as mentors and include some sessions where roles will be reversed and young employees will actually be the mentors, sharing their specifc expertise and ways of working. The program, which lasts one year, aims to accelerate the development journey of Future Owners through the guidance of Senior Managers and to raise Senior Managers’ awareness of younger colleagues’ priorities and issues. This type of mentoring offers a great opportunity to explore cross-generational exchanges, building relationships based on mutual respect and acceptance.
From a company perspective, Reciprocal Mentoring is also an effective solution to tackle key challenges posed by societal and job market developments like digital transformation, D&I, the spread of a digital and innovative mindset, and the reduction of gaps between young talents and more experienced managers. Consistent with our cultural transformation model, the real innovation of this program is in the opportunity it provides to build solid relationships between
generations that differ from one another in terms of skills, experiences and ways of thinking.
We expect signifcant results, not only in terms of the exchange of competences, but also and more importantly in terms of creating space for dialogue between generations, in order to unleash the power to innovate ways of working, performing and contributing to our organizational culture.
In a world where population aging is not slowing down and particularly affects some of Generali’s main operating countries, making sure all generations are represented and intergenerational dialogue is fostered is a key priority for the group, now more than ever. By leveraging well-designed intergenerational learning programs and fostering intergenerational relationships built on mutual trust and respect, Generali will support knowledge-sharing between generations, through the exchange of the unique sets of values, skills and competences of each age group. As stated by a number of senior managers involved in the last edition of the Global Mentoring Program, in these learning opportunities “every hour invested pays off in multiple ways […] because the inter-generational aspect lets me think and see things differently … and more positively!”.