The benefits of mentoring

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By E. Wayne Hart

The benefits of mentoring are well known: It gives less experienced employees valuable feedback, insight and support, while passing down wisdom and institutional knowledge. But who can develop effective mentoring relationships with today?

Whether they are called Generation Yecho boomers or even the Peter Pan generationmillennials are becoming more prevalent and weighty in today's business world. This younger generation is expected to comprise 36 percent of the global workforce this year and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

Adapting to the influx of generation Y entering the workplace doesn't mean a company must to overhaul its entire environment, but managers may have to make adjustments to their supervisory style. Here are three lessons I've learned from my experience managing a team of millennials:

1. Promote a work-life blend and balance. Millennials live by the motto "work hard, play hard." They are not willing to sacrifice their personal lives for the advancement of their careers. As a manager, empower millennials to manage their own schedules, yet continue to motivate them to be diligent about their assigned tasks.

Their contributions should never be measured by the number of late nights spent at the office but instead by the results realized, whether it's producing high-quality work, beating project deadlines or thinking outside of the box to great effect.

2. Spur collaboration. Millennials have grown up working in teams, participating in group projects in the classes, high school sports and group-chat video games. They want an atmosphere that promotes cooperation. A collaborative working environment can foster learning within a company.

Use open floor plan offices to encourage teamwork, where no one is confined to cramped, isolated cubicles. Having a group setup lessens the sense of a corporate hierarchy and creates an ambiance of community. The team dynamic in the office is augmented by bonding events through company-sponsored activities, such as surfing lessons, pick-up basketball games and monthly dinners that let employees have a chance to get to know one another personally. A team that is built on trusted personal relationships will lead to solidarity.

3. Set personal goals. Many millennials consider themselves altruists by nature. They want to have a purpose, whether it's contributing to their co-workers' success, company growth or aiding those using the products or services they create. Millennials' can-do attitude makes them mentally prepared to take on challenging tasks. They'll continue to assume those tasks when it's apparent they contribute to their professional development.

Personal goal setting is important for millennials who want to see forward movement in their careers and take ownership of their progress. Allow new hires to spend a few weeks getting a lay of the land before asking them to record their goals – for the near term for their current position and long term to map their career aspirations.

From there, managers should conduct a monthly meeting with each team member to check in on their goals, outline expectations and provide candid advice. A manager's job is to help every employee become more successful , and goal setting, along with periodic check-ins, adds a layer of measurement that's beneficial for the team member and manager.


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