It’s Important To Ladder Knowledge Up The Ladder, Here’s Why

Often in work situations we find ourselves at a crossroads. Perhaps we know something, or have a unique idea, that would help a colleague sitting levels above us on a current or upcoming project. However, we’re often taught to keep our ideas close to the vest to make our individual work better, or that those above our current career station don’t need ideas coming from below. But it’s so important to ladder knowledge up, especially to help eliminate ageism at work, and here’s why.

Every age group pulls ideas from different places in different ways. Younger generations might see a video on social media that could spark their imagination in a way that it wouldn’t for someone of more years watching the very same video. If these two individuals had a conversation about this specific video they would both learn something from each other – about their perspectives, about ideas spawned from the video, and more. But, what happens when we don’t allow ideas to ladder up?

It's Important To Ladder Knowledge Up The Ladder Here's Why

Older individuals aren’t seeing a full picture if they don’t specifically seek it out. Younger generations still are – they have their own perspective and they have the perspective of others higher up the career ladder flowing down the ladder towards them. This is detrimental to older generations in the office, especially when they are seeking a career move or planning to seek one in the future. Their view of the world will become very one-sided, rather than well-rounded, when it comes to work.

So, why should younger generations make an effort to share their ideas up the ladder, if they aren’t actively being sought out? Younger individuals will also benefit from a healthy give and take of knowledge in the workplace. While younger generations may have a helpful view of new technology or new trends, older generations have years of insight about office politics, career moves, plus their own unique view of tech and trends. We all have something to learn from one another, that’s why we’re such strong advocates for mentorship across all generations.

It’s often the case that younger individuals seek out mentorship from older individuals – in an effort to make career moves, or to learn helpful tips and tricks to use in the office. However, we don’t often see older individuals actively seeking out younger individuals to be their mentor. We should.

Each of us should work to have a mentor that is a few career levels above us, as well as a mentor that is a few career levels behind us. Not only will this increase the perspectives we get about work and the world, it will boost our ability to be a team player.

Next time you’re in an interview and you’re asked where you seek out ideas first when you’re assigned a new project, you’ll be able to describe how easy it is for you to work across generations, how seeking diverse perspectives is so important. By seeking mentorship up and down the career ladder you’ll not only be learning, you’ll also be expanding how desirable you are as a candidate – especially since being a team player is a big part of keeping ageism away.

If you find yourself having a hard time getting back into the workforce, or finding that next perfect career move, perhaps it’s time to find a mentor both up and down the career ladder to discover any new perspectives you haven’t considered. Maybe there’s something you can add to your resume that you never dreamed would help you land your next role.

Below are some tips for finding a mentor:

Look in the office
The first place you can look for a mentor (both up and down the career ladder) is at work. Perhaps there is someone you’ve worked with that you think really has some stellar ideas – send them a note for a quick coffee chat to see if they’re interested in a mentorship opportunity that goes both ways. Maybe they have an hour every few weeks to chat, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Plus, they’ll have insight into the company you work for, and that’s a great starting point for any mentor-mentee relationship.

Look on mentorship websites
There are plenty of mentorship opportunities available online. These mentors are just a phone call away, and you can pick a mentor (and a price range) that works for you. You can hand-select a mentor that’s in the same career as yourself, or maybe even one that’s not if you’re looking to gain an entirely different perspective than the one you currently have. Make sure to search out any specific requests you have – do you want a mentor that video chats, are you looking to talk during certain times of the day? When you’re searching out a mentor via the web you can be very picky, in a good way.

Phone a friend
Sometimes it’s really helpful to ask around your own group of friends and family. If you have a lot of connections (acquaintances, social media friends, etc) be sure to reach out and let them know what you’re looking for. They just might be able to point you in the right direction. Maybe they’ve had their own success with mentors that you can also speak with, or they know someone who is a mentor themselves.

Also, be sure to check out our tips for making the most of your mentoring sessions.

Ageism Educational Resources

What is Ageism?

Ageism In The Workplace

Reverse Ageism At Work

Ageism Stereotypes

Ageism In Interviews

Ageism In Sports

Ageism In Society