Mentoring Millennials: HBR article

» Posted by Jeanne Meister  » Posted on 04.25.10


My co-author for the upcoming book, The 2020 Workplace, Karie Willyerd and I have some exciting news to share with you all: our article on innovations in mentoring is in the May 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review! The title is Mentoring Millennials and the article is part of HBR’s theme for this issue: How To Keep Your Star Talent.
To read more and to order a full copy of the article, please visit Harvard Business Review’s website. The following is the introduction to the article:

The makeup of the global workforce is undergoing a seismic shift: In four years Millennials—the people born between 1977 and 1997—will account for nearly half the employees in the world. In some companies, they already constitute a majority.

That shift may sound daunting to the managers charged with coaching these young workers, who have a reputation for being attention sponges. However, our research into the varying expectations and needs of employees across four generations has given us a more nuanced view of Millennials and uncovered several resource efficient ways to mentor them.

We polled 2,200 professionals across a wide range of industries, asking about their values, their behavior at work, and what they wanted from their employers. The Millennials, we saw, did want a constant stream of feedback and were in a hurry for success, but their expectations were not as outsized as many assume. That’s good news for organizations wondering just who will mentor this rising generation. Baby Boomers are retiring, and Gen X may not be large enough to shoulder the responsibility alone. In the U.S., for instance, the 88 million Millennials vastly outnumber Gen Xers, who are just 50 million strong.

Millennials view work as a key part of life, not a separate activity that needs to be “balanced” by it. For that reason, they place a strong emphasis on finding work that’s personally fulfilling. They want work to afford them the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, and connect to a larger purpose. That sense of purpose is a key factor in their job satisfaction; according to our research, they’re the most socially conscious generation since the 1960s.

The article goes into depth on three innovative ways to mentor Millennials: 1) reverse mentoring, where a Millennial is matched to a senior executive, 2) group mentoring, where the company sets up a technology platform allowing employees to create their own self-organizing groups on such topics as lead generation or leadership development and 3) anonymous mentoring which uses psychological testing and a background review to match mentees with trained mentors outside the organization.Exchanges are conducted entirely online, and both the mentee and the mentor, who is usually a professional coach or seasoned executive, remain anonymous.

I would really enjoy your comments on the article and if your organization is using any of these types of mentoring, share with us here your results.

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