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Mentoring a Younger Generation: A Lesson in Growth

As we grow and advance within our careers, it’s important to continue learning and adding to our skillset. This couldn’t be truer for professional mentors, individuals who serve as a continuing source of guidance for a younger generation of aspiring business professionals.

 People just getting started on building a career don’t possess nearly as much knowledge or experience as someone acting as a mentor, and they certainly don’t yet have the skills they’ll need to become a master in their chosen field. What they do possess is a healthy understanding of what is current.

A good number of them are aware of emerging technologies and the latest new gadget out on the market. They’re open to change and understand that they’ll have to do a lot of it to get to where they want to go in their careers. They know how to converse and collaborate with their peers, and they can relate to the demands and interests of a younger generation.

This may be true of students right out of college or young businessmen and women working on building a career. A mentor’s job is to guide these individuals along the path to success, and their instruction can only be improved by a continuing education in and knowledge of what is important to their mentees.

There are a few things mentors can do to ensure they’re able to supplement their expertise with a fresh perspective that is relatable and relevant to younger mentees:

Grow with the times: Innovate and keep up with current technology. Many things will change over the course of a career, including management styles, workplace culture, and technology. It can be hard to accept these changes as necessary for growth, but mentors who do will have a much better understanding of the world their mentees live in.

Hone your communication skills: Being able to converse with mentees is paramount to a successful mentorship. This is not always an easy task, since people communicate in different ways and a younger generation my have a completely different understanding of what serves as communication. Mentors should educate themselves on popular forms of communication, as well as different communication styles.

Be open to serendipity: It can be easy to grow comfortable and complacent in what you know, to only seek mentees within your organization or department. But mentors who keep themselves open to opportunities they may not otherwise have recognized will be more flexible and ultimately more rounded in their mentorships. Be open to mentees from unlikely sources that may seek you out for guidance.

Let the young teach you: Chances are there are quite a few younger employees within your organization. Make it a point to visit with them, talk with them, and learn what their interests are. Find out what’s going on in their world and how you can learn from it. You’ll not only open yourself up to gaining knowledge valuable to future mentorships, but you’ll become a trusted presence in their eyes; a senior colleague who actually cares what they think.

Embrace change: It goes without saying that if you want to be relevant to a younger generation, you have to choose to accept change. If you cling to old habits, methods, beliefs, and technologies, you’ll only succeed in alienating yourself from the people you hope to lead. Mentees benefit from the knowledge you gained in your world, but they’ll only succeed if they can apply it to theirs.

A mentor’s role is two-part: to educate their charges on how to excel in their careers and reach their goals, and to educate themselves on what is important and relevant to the individuals they seek to guide. You'll gain the trust of mentees more quickly and demonstrate to them that you care about the concerns of the world they live in and the challenges they face in advancing in their career. 

If this post resonated with you, check with your organization to see whether you are part of the MentorCloud network. If not, sign up for a demo here! Our vision is to create a mentoring planet in which true equality is achieved and hard work is rewarded, but it's only possible with your participation.