Millennials (those born around the years between 1977 and 1997) count for nearly half of the employees across the world. Studies show that Millennials are the most socially conscious generation, and they want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose. That sense of purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction.
Suffice it to say, Millennials can be time-consuming for their managers when it comes to mentoring, but the good thing is that Millennials WANT and DESIRE this needed interaction. They arrive in the corporate environment with academic knowledge and enthusiasm, but without the skills needed to navigate and succeed in this environment. Often young employees feel the mature employee is too stuck in their ways and unwilling to try an alternative, while the mature employee sees the youthful exuberance as flighty and undisciplined. This creates tension, unhealthy rivalry and often contentious relationships in the workplace. And this is where mentorship is so pivotal – not to rein in the flighty young worker, or to dissipate their enthusiasm, but to channel their exuberance and to provide them with the skills necessary to be led and to lead in the workplace. This can be difficult to manage, but here are some ways that are effective in mentoring young employees:
1. Establish a two-way, cross-generational mentoring.
We know that young employees are generally willing to learn and eager to make a difference. They are technology savvy, highly adaptable, comfortable with the rapid pace of change, and have multicultural awareness. Companies need these skills from all their employees and leaders. Younger employees can mentor their long-tenured bosses and colleagues in these areas, while established leaders can help the younger ones channel their ideas and enthusiasm in ways that promote innovation.
2. Support informal mentoring.
Some of the most effective informal mentoring are the spontaneous relationships that occur naturally in an organization, such as over lunch or a manager guiding a younger employee through a project. Mentors and long-tenured employees should seize the opportunities when they see a mentoring moment. These moments happen in the halls, in the elevator or just after a meeting. People need to understand the value of letting it happen serendipitously.
3. Make mentoring a part of the organizational strategy.
All leaders need to look at their followers and commit to helping them grow in their jobs. This should be applied to everyone, not just those who opted for formal mentorship. Younger leaders need to be guided and have expertise and wisdom passed on. It may be a good idea to include a commitment to mentoring in the performance appraisals.
While it is perceived that young employees know everything due to their tech-savvy lifestyle, their ability to adapt and figure out solutions, they are not all-knowing…and they know this! They are eager to learn new skills, and to have knowledge transferred to them. Millennials are filled with enthusiasm and passion, which, through successful mentoring, can be honed in and used to your company’s benefit.