4 Tips for Mentoring Millennials the Right Way
Posted by: Lauren Freeman
Much has been written about Millennials, the generation of people born in the 1980s and 1990s. Research has shown that they’re more likely to prioritize lifestyle over salary, for example, that they need more feedback than previous generations, and that they plan to change careers more often.
So how does that translate into the world of mentoring? In this post, we’ll look at some tips on mentoring Millennials effectively.
Of course, any characteristics ascribed to a whole generation are generalizations that don’t apply to each individual person. But there are some real differences, and effective mentoring programs take those into account.
1. Provide Support
In one recent study, a majority of Millennials said that a mentoring relationship would help them become a better and more productive contributor to their company. Separate research published in Harvard Business Review showed that of the top five characteristics Millennials wanted from their bosses, three were to do with support and development: they wanted someone who would mentor and coach them, would give straight feedback, and sponsor them for formal development programs.
So providing Millennials with mentoring opportunities is a great way of giving them the support they are looking for and helping them reach their full potential, as well as giving you a better chance of retaining them.
The type of mentoring provided, though, may need to be different...
2. Vary It
A BusinessWeek article last year on “The Misery of Mentoring Millennials” claimed that: “For a new generation of workers, the idea of seeking out a single career confidant is as old-fashioned as a three-martini lunch.”
The new generation of protégés may be more comfortable forming shorter-term mentoring relationships with a greater number of people. A good strategy would be to supplement traditional mentoring programs by doing things like helping them build a personal advisory board.
Peer mentoring, reverse mentoring and even speed mentoring could also be great ways to engage younger employees who are more used to high-speed communication. Click here for some ideas on innovative mentoring approaches your organization could adopt.
The danger of growing up with social media and texting is potentially struggling with face-to-face communication because of overreliance on technology. “This has led to poor people skills, low emotional intelligence, and the inability to handle interpersonal challenges,” Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders, told Monster.com.
3. Build Connections
So match your young protégés with mentors from other generations, and have them focus on communication skills. The mentors can help their protégés adapt to the workplace and its requirements, while the Millennials can teach their senior colleagues new technology skills and forms of communication.
4. Don’t Forget Tradition
Mentoring has been around since the time of Homer, and is unlikely to go away soon. While Millennials may have some unique characteristics, they’re not a different species. In the long run, a traditional mentoring relationship is likely to provide them with huge benefits, just as it has for countless generations before them.
So be aware of what the new generation wants, and do everything you can to engage and retain them. Experimenting with different forms of mentoring is a great way of catering to their specific needs. But regular, long-term, one-on-one mentoring relationships should still form the core of any organization’s program, not just for Millennials but for whatever we choose to call the generation that comes next.