The Mentoring Dilemma We Don’t Talk About

If you ask a Millennial what they want from their company or managers, one theme you will hear over and over is that they are hungry for relationships. They crave them. It’s ironic, right? They are the most connected generation in history, yet they are starved for relationships and mentors. Here’s a list of the top nine things that Millennials said they wanted from their company, based on a series of interviews done by The Randstad 2008 World of Work:

  1. Help us learn.
  2. Believe in us.
  3. Tune in to our technology.
  4. Connect us.
  5. Let us make it our own.
  6. Tell us how we’re doing.
  7. Be approachable.
  8. Plug in to our parents.
  9. Be someone we can believe in.

At least 7 out of those 9 have to do with relationships.

And they are going to need them because they are going to be forced into leadership positions very soon, and they are going to need a web of relationships with more experienced leaders to whom they can look to for ongoing, “on the job” learning.

Relationships give us a wider perspective. One of the most important things you can do in developing your Millennials is to create avenues where networking becomes an important and ongoing part of their lives. Networking isn’t just for finding your next new job; it’s for how to do the job! Some researchers have started referring to this as CxQ (Connectional Intelligence). So we have IQ, EQ, and now CxQ. Of the three, some would say that CxQ is the most important!

Millennials value collaboration. They have worked in teams throughout their education. Whereas Baby Boomers learned to compete in school and had to learn to collaborate in their career, Millennials learned how to collaborate in school, perhaps at the expense of learning to compete.

You may be saying, “Well, if technology has made this generation so good at collaboration (CxQ), why do we need to help them develop it?” That’s a good question. And here’s the answer. Many of the people that they need to know in order to be successful are in your network, not theirs. One of the most helpful things you can do for Millennials is to open the gate and allow them into your network.

This can be intimidating for Baby Boomers because they have learned to compete in order to survive, so it’s almost counter-intuitive. After all, if Millennial leaders have access to powerful relationships, won’t that give them a competitive advantage? Once again, Baby Boomers are faced with the dilemma: compete or collaborate? In the “old world”, the right answer was clear. In the “new world”, the answer is just as clear, but it’s different.

Mike Mowery

Written by:
Mike Mowery
Director of Leadership Development, Strategic Government Resources

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