Millennials Want Mentoring, But This Kind

Millennials have a high value toward growth and learning. They are hungry for mentoring. But there’s often a mismatch between the assistance older leaders try to provide and what Millennials want. Here’s the kind of mentoring that will benefit Millennials.

Millennials, those born between 1981 – 1996, now make up one half of the work force. Learning and development are essential job benefits for Millennials. If you don’t offer relevant learning and growth opportunities, you won’t attract Millennials to your organization or keep them.

In one study, 63% of Millennials said they look for jobs with opportunities to grow and learn leadership skills. Sixty-seven percent of Millennials in another survey said they would leave a position with few growth opportunities. While those same opportunities would keep 86% from leaving their current job.

If you don't offer learning opportunities, you won't attract Millennials to your organization or keep them. Share on X

Mentoring Millennials Want

Mentoring is a preferred way of learning for Millennials. Yet, not just any kind of mentoring. Millennials are looking for particular assistance that older leaders aren’t providing.

I find that all generations are looking for these things to an extent. However, it’s more pronounced with Millennials.

Listening. As much as a person wants to learn from you, they don’t want you to fix them. They’re not looking to be taught in the traditional sense of telling them the rules and boundaries, or even how you did it. They want guidance to be able to find their own way forward. They realize the world has shifted and the boxes previous generations were willing to live within may not be relevant any longer. Think: the time-based seniority ladders and separation of work from personal fulfillment.

Asking thought-provoking questions and then listening will show respect and engage their passion to learn through discovery.

Wisdom. With the Internet at their fingertips, this generation has more information and greater ability to access it than any other. They don’t need your information, they need your wisdom. They want to know how to use the information they have. What is important among all these facts? What should be prioritized? How to develop the soft skill, human dynamics needed to navigate culture, emotions, and human nature?

Share the non-tangible, tacit knowledge you have, such as, working well with a difficult supervisor, when to charge ahead and when to check in first, and how to get along better with coworkers who are unlike themselves.

Mentors, Millennials don't need your information, they need your wisdom. Do you know the difference? Share on X

Meaning. There’s a lot of talk about finding fulfilling jobs that they believe in. Sometimes this is received as pie-in-sky idealism. But Millennials are looking for what we all are – meaning. It takes a mid-life crisis for Baby Boomers to wake up and search for meaning. Millennials are more up front about it than other generations have been.

Salary, corner offices, or prestige of position are not the only things that matter to this generation. They think whole life, not separate work, personal, and family. They want options to work remotely in order to not sacrifice time away from family. They want their work to matter. They want to be assured the company is contributing toward good in the world.

Authenticity. Be ready to be real and authentic. They can smell spin and contradiction a mile away. Social media has given Millennials a skepticism that questions what’s shown, because so much of what’s seen turns out not to be real. Authenticity is a high value, to the point that in work interactions Millennials might appear to older generations as unprofessional.

Any mask you wear will be recognized as phony. They may have trouble getting past it to learn from you unless you let them see the real you.

Millennials want to be mentored. They want to learn, grow, and have opportunities to develop leadership skills. If you listen, be authentic, and share wisdom that helps them uncover meaning, you’ll make a welcome contribution.

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    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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