Millennial employees are shaping today’s job market and they have unique needs which employers should not ignore. As Pew Research reported in 2015, millennials have surpassed Gen X as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. As they become a major part of your work force, you should embrace their perspective, channel it for the benefit of your business and provide them with positive mentoring. Here are three ways to effectively mentor millennials:
1) Help them dig into a big issue
The benefits of doing this are two-fold: they feel more engaged and empowered, and their perspective could provide new solutions to long-standing problems. Remember, millennials are looking to take on challenges and find solutions that will have a profound and lasting impact. Jean Case of the Case Foundation writes in a Forbes article that, “the companies that successfully engage this group and answer their call will ultimately help to catalyze it within the corporate sector allowing for a new, more valuable kind of return.”
2) Show them the way to future opportunities
Millennials are accustomed to and expect authority figures to tell them how they can advance in their careers. Rather than a once-a-year review, they prefer regular one-on-ones to discuss their performance and ability to grow within the company. They will likely expect this to be the case at your organization as well.
Other employees may interpret this drive to seek out a leadership position negatively and feel that millennials are seeking opportunities they haven’t yet earned. However, this should not be perceived as a threat because it is primarily a drive for self-improvement. In other words, they are not trying to take over anyone’s job – they are merely trying to carve an upwards path for themselves.
Maren Hogan of Red Brand Media suggests that HR teams and managers embrace this desire to advance and leverage it to help employees succeed in the workplace. To do this, assign each millennial to a mentor who can help them understand how advancement occurs within the company. Under the guidance of this mentor, the millennial can be encouraged to hone strengths and improve weaknesses by taking the lead on projects, adding new responsibilities and undertaking training programs.
3) Mentor them in reverse
A Harvard Business Review article describes a new method for mentoring millennials: mentor them in reverse. It may sound odd but consider this: Your junior employee can team up with an executive and guide them on the effective use of a new skill. For example, a millennial could be tasked with showing an executive how to best leverage social media for marketing and recruitment purposes.
This method benefits both employees. It keeps executives’ knowledge up-to-date and educates them on new trends they may have never learned, while millennials get exposure to higher levels of the organization. They will come to understand what’s required to reach those ranks and what they’ll need to do to take over as employees retire.
When guided by a steady and experienced hand, millennials can become committed workers, who grow into powerful leaders that can successfully transform and lead these businesses into the future.
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