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Brad Callahan
Vice President, Business Solutions Group

Generational Mentoring for Organizational Success

Developing a successful mentorship program that is organization-wide and engages all generations is a valuable tool that can help you develop talent and boost employee engagement. By focusing on knowledge development, career advancement, and the tacit transfer of knowledge, a successful mentoring program can build younger employees’ confidence as they are prepped for leadership roles.

The Power of Mentorship in Talent RetentionA mentoring program prepares younger or less experienced employees to take on more influential roles at your organization. Developing your talent means that you are investing in the future success of your company. The personalized feedback and coaching that a mentor can offer also shows your employees that you are investing in their potential as much as in the company’s.

Investing in company talent has become a hot topic for companies as the workforce changes. For example, as the smaller and more competitive population of gen-Xers and millennials replaces the aging baby boomers, talent retention is becoming a priority. According to research performed by Deloitte in 2012, retention is 25 percent higher for employees who have engaged in a company-sponsored mentorship program. This reflects the ability of a mentoring program to help cultivate a culture of employee engagement and demonstrate the organization’s commitment to employees’ career development.

Putting Mentorship to WorkSuccess in employee retention is just one of the outcomes of a mentoring program. Mentoring programs also support talent development. They provide opportunities for relationship-building across your company and over the long-term. Your entire organization benefits from the exchange of knowledge and the role modeling that these programs can facilitate.

white paper from Chronus explains that “Mentoring can promote mutual learning to challenge and stimulate employees at all levels within the organization.” This can be especially valuable in connecting generations of employees who otherwise may not collaborate or share ideas without the framework of a company program.

The Right Mentor for the Right GenerationHow you set up a company sponsored mentorship program is often dependent upon the type of rewards and recognition that motivate your employees. In a recent gift card incentive blog we’ve talked about how this can vary depending on the economy or generation.

For example, millennials have been both loudly criticized and applauded for their approach to a career and the expectations they hold for their bosses and organizations. Harvard Business Review explains that millennials expect a company that is flexible with lifestyle adjustments for start times and dress code. Millennials also expect honest and timely feedback from their boss, and direction regarding their career path.

Moreover, millennials want these things now. These “wants” are just a few among many listed by millennials, all of which can be summed up very broadly by saying that millennials are seeking fulfillment from their career. That seems pretty straightforward, right? Probably not. However, mentorships can play a significant role in providing this preparation for success to millennials. The Harvard Business Review lists three different types of mentoring that can be especially effective with millennials: reverse mentoring, group mentoring, and anonymous mentoring. The success of each approach depends on how well it relates to the collaborative nature of millennials; if the program doesn’t, it can come across as inauthentic or forced.

These non-traditional mentoring styles can include having a less experienced employee mentor an executive in social media or building an anonymous mentoring relationship that doesn’t include names or identifying details. These mentoring tactics allow millennials to feel the intimacy in a relationship that they often cherish, while conserving the resources required from your experienced staff, thus lowering the risk of burnout from your higher ups.

Bridging the Gap between GenerationsLeveraging the diversity of your workforce with a company- sponsored mentorship program is a savvy way to connect less experienced but eager employees with likewise enthusiastic, though perhaps quieter, more experienced colleagues. The Harvard Business Review showed that honest feedback is placed at a high premium across generations, not just with millennials. So while your younger employees may be more vocal about the recognition that resonates with them, your generation X-ers and baby boomers may be much quieter but just as interested in that feedback.

The future of your company lies with your employees and their ability to succeed. Implementing a mentorship program that spans workforce generations is beneficial for your team and employee engagement and your organization’s bottom line. Talk to us about other employee engagement opportunities.

Sources:Harvard Business Review, “Mentoring Millennials,” May 2010.
Chronus Corporation, White Paper: “How Coaching and Mentoring and Drive Success in Your Organization,” Lis Merrick.