By 2015, half of the global workforce will be composed of Millennials – people born between 1977 and 1997. Given that Baby Boomers are retiring and Generation X constitutes only 55 million people, organizations are concerned about how this generation of 88 million will be mentored. The good news is that Millennials value mentoring relationships and are open to learning from seasoned people with rich life and work experience. They grew up with lots of direction from their parents and teachers, and they thrive on structure and guidance. When mentoring Millennials, it is helpful to recognize that they perceive work as an integral part of life and therefore seek out work that is interesting and fulfilling. They want to feel like they are a part of a larger purpose and seek opportunities to develop their skills.
Millennials will likely overachieve for organizations that provide a roadmap to success. For mentors of Millennials, that means taking a sincere interest in their career path and helping them identify the specific technical, interpersonal, and leadership skills they will need to progress down that path. It also means providing concrete learning experiences and training for developing those skills. Millennials welcome mentors who sponsor them in formal development programs, especially if those mentors illustrate how the protégé’s efforts will help them more quickly attain their desired future state. Mentors who spend time learning about their protégés’ hopes, dreams, and values will tap into a deep sense of passion that can be successfully leveraged for the organization. While Millennials may find criticism difficult to hear at times, they generally want ongoing, authentic feedback. They have focused on getting “good grades” in school, sports, and extracurricular activities throughout their lives, and they will want to know how they are doing in the workplace as well. This thirst for guidance can be delivered in microfeedback, which is concise, real-time feedback in the day-to-day of their working experience.
With meaningful and sincere mentoring, Millennials will likely go the extra mile.