The workplace is becoming increasingly diverse in its generational demographics. Coming into the workforce with great energy and vigor is the group called the Millenials, also called Generation Y. It is vital for preceding generations to understand the Millenial generation in order to mentor them, equip them for success, and be ready to hand off the reigns when the time comes.
The key to mentoring Millenials is understanding them. For Millenials, there is a full integration between work and life, whereas Traditionalists work from an obligation and duty that requires sacrifice. (Bennet, 2012, p. 280) This can lead to a misunderstanding of Millenials, assuming their independent spirit is a reluctance to conform (Martin, 2005) Quite the contrary though, they very much desire clear direction and management support, but they seek it in flexibility and autonomy in task achievement. (McQuire, 2007) Millenials are confident, independent, individualistic, self-reliant, and entrepreneurial (Martin, 2005), but they are also socially active, collaborative, team-oriented, and desire structure. The tracks for which mentoring can travel are support and mutual respect from older generations to the Millenials through an understanding of who they truly are, rather than lazily subscribe to the stereotype many assume is true.
In order to effectively mentor Millenials it will require a shift from traditional work environments, and an expansion of the boundaries for which Millenials are allowed to work within. First, frame achievement opportunities in a team-based setting (Bennet, 2012, p. 284) with collaborative task management. Second, embrace the technological prowess of Millenials and provide opportunities for virtual workspaces. (Bennet, 2012, p. 285)
By understanding Millenials, and providing a work environment they understand and flourish in, support is established, trust is fostered, and a mentoring relationship can begin.
Bennet, J., Pitt, M., & Price, S. (2012). Understanding the Impact of Generational Issues in the Workplace. Facilities, vol. 30(iss. 7/8), pp. 278 – 288.
David McGuire, R. T. B. (2007). Towards a model of human resource solutions for achieving intergenerational interaction in organizations.
Martin, C. A. (2005). From high maintenance to high productivity: What managers need to know about Generation Y. Industrial and Commercial Training, 37(1), 39–44.