Anyone who has the (mis?)fortune to work with me knows that I hold myself to a high standard. I absolutely hate disappointing people and take criticism quite seriously. My superiors can take this in two ways: they can just hope that I will find the correct resources on my own to fix my own flaws or what I perceive to be my flaws, or they can use this drive and give me resources/training to perfect my flaws.
You Get What You Give Us
I am not the only Millennial in the workplace. I might be more critical of myself than others and there are definitely Millennials out there who think they have all of the answers. What we do have in common is that:
a) we do not have all of the answers
b) unless someone helps us find the answers, they aren’t going to magically appear in front of us.
We all know that taking a shot in the dark relies on luck to hit the correct target. Expecting me to find the right resources to help improve my work on my own is going to produce the same results as taking a shot in the dark.
Maps and Guidebooks
Mentorship is like giving someone a map and a guidebook; you show starting and end points. You point out all of the cute cafes, museums, and the best hotels. You share helpful reviews on places and tips to avoid traffic. At the same time, you let the person you are sharing these tools with choose the path that works best for them. You might dog-ear a few pages or even pencil in a route, but you allow them to make decisions based on these tools and your advice.
At the same time, you let the person you are sharing these tools with choose the path that works best for them. You might dog-ear a few pages or even pencil in a route, but you allow them to make decisions based on these tools and your advice.
Direction Not Dictatorship
You see, mentorship does not equate dictatorship. It is a relationship built on sharing learned lessons, fears and concerns, and a genuine drive to create the best employee.
How can you have a team of fantastic employees unless you give them the tools to be the best possible versions of themselves?
Mapping Out Millennial Mentorship Needs
I have been fortunate enough to work largely in management roles after securing my undergraduate degree. I’ve always been a problem solver and a people-lover. I can say that I’ve been a Coordinator, a Manager, and a Director. I’ve managed large teams and small teams. If I have my way, mentorship will always be a major component in my future jobs. Having mentored Millennials and knowing what I desperately want in my employment experiences, I’ve made a list (a guide, if you will).
- No one likes feeling lost. Giving maps and guides to projects includes making it clear that asking for directions is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.
- If they look lost, they are probably lost. Send them a compass and if they still can’t find north, gently nudge them in the right direction.
- Show your team your own wrong turns and ask them to help give you directions in your journey.
- “Fatigue Kills” is a sign found on any highway. It’s true. Take breaks from the task of getting from point A to B by enjoying the scenery. Get to know your team. Take the time to celebrate their differences and learn their ticks.
- Treat each person like a different trip. You wouldn’t give someone who hates trains a route that only involves trains. You are only truly mentoring when you building up each person individually and uniquely.
- Make the trip. You can’t complain about not seeing the world if you don’t ever leave your house. You cannot complain about having mediocre employees if you haven’t put the effort to cultivate the best in them.
- Know when to turn around. It’s always hard to see that someone is getting roadblock after roadblock and the detours are not working.
We’re so used to planning long journeys. When you expected a person to stay in a company for 40 years, mentorship was a long trip. You could cultivate the best in employees because the time frame and the amount of distance to cover could grow and expand over decades. With contracts lasting a few months to a couple years, mentorship means thinking about small day trips and giving guides to help in their overall journey. But, as we all know, even the smallest of trips needs direction to be successful.
First generation Canadian. Social media aficionado. Community engager; Communications connoisseur. A small person trying to make big change.