Four Secrets To Millennial Mentoring – A Retention Multiplier

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

Many of us are so time-strapped, we can barely fit another responsibility onto our plates. But as millennials join our companies and our teams, we need to adjust our expectations and responsibilities to them, so they can give us their best work.

That includes mentoring. Millennials are eager for your input. In fact, a survey from TinyPulse found that 42 percent of millennials want feedback every week–double that of other generations. Every week! You barely have time to exercise every week, am I right?

Here are four ways you can provide mentoring that will prepare Millennials for success, without consuming too much of your time.

Reverse Mentoring

Let me guess. Your Millennial employee knows a few more things about Snapchat and Instagram than you do. Instead of trying to always be in Charles in Charge, why don’t you turn the tables and allow them to mentor you? With reverse mentoring, your tech-savvy junior can show you how to use social media channels or make quick videos for more engaging presentations. By letting younger employees be the guide, it creates an effective avenue for a window into the higher levels of the organization. When you’re working together, they can’t help but soak up some of your business acumen, as well as a better understanding of the business as a whole. It also provides a non-threatening platform for you to offer some input on what not to say on social media. And, you’ll finally figure out why not to send that eggplant emoji when you’re at the farmer’s market.

Micro Mentoring

No, we’re not talking micro-managing. Micro mentoring is more about “micro feedback.” Millennials don’t want the huge brain dump that comes when you wait weeks and then overload them with everything you’ve been noticing – positive or negative — about their progress and performance. In fact, that’s why annual reviews are going the way of the VCR. You can think of this approach as performance assessment for Twitterholics—succinct and nearly real time. I recently learned about this technique from Susan Hutt, who found in her previous position as a senior vice president at Workbrain that her Millennial employees “wanted constant feedback and information on their career progress.” She developed an online, on-demand assessment system that limited feedback to 140 characters. To employees accustomed to instant messaging, texting, and Twitter, this format for providing advice felt digestible and timely, not curt.

Group Mentoring

I’m guessing that some of the lessons you’d like to impart to a junior employee are ones you’d like to share with lots of them. That’s the perfect scenario for group mentoring, where the bonus is that they’re also learning from each other. This type of mentoring can take the form of lunch-and-learns, or increasingly, companies are developing technology platforms that allow employees to participate when it’s convenient for them. I love how AT&T approaches it. Their mentoring takes place in self-organizing, topic-based groups, called “leadership circles.” Using an online platform, one mentor can work with several mentees at a time—sometimes in different locations—on skills like generating sales leads or leading teams.

Anonymous Mentoring

Sorry, this isn’t a way to tell that slacker employee what you really think. (And yes, you need to, but not anonymously!) Rather, this method uses psychological testing and a background review to match mentees with trained mentors outside the organization, usually a professional coach or seasoned executive. The exchanges are then conducted entirely anonymously online, allowing for candid, objective feedback that’s often easier for a third-party to offer than a manager. The engagements are typically paid for by the mentee’s company, and last six to 12 months. We heard from both mentors and mentees that the anonymity was an unexpected boon. Joanna Sherriff, 33, the vice president of creative services at Decision Toolbox, initially expected to find it awkward but realized in the long run that anonymity was at the root of its success. “I would never have shared so much with my mentor if he or she had known my identity or my company.”

Have you tried any of these, or other alternative mentoring techniques? Please share in the comments below.


Leave a Comment