In the Deloitte Millennial Report 2018, a clear step change was noted. It stated this particular generation is ‘feeling uneasy about the future. The growth of Industry 4.0 technologies—from robotics and the internet of things to artificial intelligence and cognitive—has altered the nature of work, while political upheavals challenge the established world order.’
Against this daunting backdrop however there appears to be quite a clear resolution to these issues and this comes in the shape of mentoring.
Research by PwC highlights how millennials see mentoring as the most desired Learning and Development opportunity. Many respond well to mentoring by older employees – in an ideal world, they would like to see their boss as a coach who supports them in their personal development. Generally they prefer to learn by doing rather than by being told what to do and they prefer to be mentored rather than managed.
Additionally, millennials who intend to stay with an organisation for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not and their ideal working week would include significantly more mentoring and coaching time than they currently receive.
While we may already know there is benefit in having a mentor, what’s less common is individuals who actually have one; this is more acute with millennials than older workers.
How do we tackle the need of mentoring for millennials?
On the one side we have millennials signalling mentoring is a ‘must have’. They have a strong voice in being the largest generation in today’s workforce. They are also possibly the best equipped to tackle the technological innovation opportunities across the industry as well.
The onus is therefore on the leadership to provide the necessary reassurances they need and signal the way forward while supporting the workforce in furnishing their learning and development.
But this really is a twofold issue; companies need to be more creative when structuring formal programs and also encourage their millennials to seek both internal and external mentorships. It’s great for people to be fuelled with motivation and ambition but common sense tells us it is not solely the remit organisations to solve skills development and career progression challenges – put simply millennials must be able to take responsibility for their own development.
Internal or external?
When considering the choices around mentoring, there are two paths to follow; mentoring relationships inside and outside the organisation. These are certainly not mutually exclusive and there are significant benefits in pursuing both simultaneously.
An internal mentor is a highly valuable relationship; through their experience they can help a mentee navigate the organisation and provide insightful advice about internal career development and mobility opportunities. Further, having an advocate for your skills and potential for the company cannot be underestimated.
The benefit of a mentor’s perspective from outside the organisation supports more unbiased and free discussion, unencumbered by concerns about topics which may be politically risky. Furthermore, a mentee might not feel totally at ease discussing any skill gaps in the knowledge their internal mentor may be part of the promotion process they are so determined to achieve.
There is a code of trust in mentoring which should never be breached. “Is it ok if this stays between us?” or “can we agree on Chatham House rules”; we have all been there. Having a truly safe environment is fundamental in enabling the expressing and diversity of thought which is much needed for a conversation between a mentor and a mentee.
Mentoring is highly personal, and individuals may want to learn soft skills, gain industry insight or learn about the next step up the ladder. This means one person may be useful for soft skills and another for industry insight. Someone who is a level or two above you in seniority may give you a realistic view of what’s going on in your industry while a C-Suite mentor will be more visionary. It’s up to you to design your own network. The best outcome is to embrace these opportunities and consider internal and external mentoring, perhaps choosing two or even three mentors over a period of time.
This is one situation when a mentee really can have his or her cake and eat a big part of it!
Please do visit our new Mentoring section where you can create a profile and find a mentor within the AlgoMe Community.