Angry Birds players rack up high scores from exhibiting the most destructive of behaviors. In the world of management, however, it is important to think about the young birds, before they become angry, and how to help them find their place. How can you help them prosper? How can you apply mentoring to help them test and master interpersonal skills” Every manager should mentor because it is a way for them also to learn and grow. The best managers will nurture younger workers by transforming the mentoring experience into a reflective learning experience with better mentoring as one of the outcomes of the relationship.
Every executive should play the role of mentor. These days, mentors have plenty to learn from their mentees, as generational differences mean vastly varied experiences with employment relationships, personal lives, education and technology. Baby boomer mentors need to be open to the idea of reciprocal mentoring because the technical skills and global insights of younger workers may prove of practical and strategic value. Young workers, for instance, can help their mentor earn their social media stripes, or provide them with market perspectives from online acquaintances in emerging markets.
Of course, the mentor enters this relationship with the intent of sharing their industry wisdom and company knowledge. Without accepting reciprocal mentoring, though, the mentees may leave. By actively engaging both parties in the mentoring relationship, some of the high turnover expectations of the Millennial generation may be averted.
Eventually, all mentees flee the nest. Good mentors stay connected, and with today’s social media, if they have learned well from their younger colleagues, they will probably be more closely tied to their mentees than mentors of the past. LinkedIn will provide an excellent way to stay close to career moves, offer back channel advice and, perhaps, even ask the occasional question to keep their own learning fresh. Who knows, the mentor may need some career advice from his or her younger colleagues at some point in the future.