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Archives for June 2014

Mentoring: It’s not just a one-way street


When we think of mentoring, many of us have the “old school” idea in mind.

Traditional mentoring programs, in which younger employees are assigned to older mentors, never worked well for all participants. Many mentors didn’t commit the time necessary to the process, and for half of those involved, the chemistry between the mentor and protege just didn’t “click”.

Today, the big issue is knowledge. With information changing so quickly, the classic mentor/protégé relationship really can’t work because it’s impossible for one mentor to know enough to provide the protégé with everything he or she needs. That’s why effective mentoring should no longer be a mentor/protégé relationship (with all its complicated dynamics); it should be more of a mutual mentoring relationship.

Younger, less experienced employees can actually mentor their older colleagues in two ways: First, this digital generation is more familiar with technology than their elders, and they want to help their elders learn. Sixty-five percent of Millennials say, “I should be mentoring older coworkers when it comes to tech and getting things done.” Secondly, the younger generation can mentor older colleagues by helping them learn the language and perspective of a different generation.

The world is too complex for the mentor/protégé approach. Today each of us needs a network of mentors both inside and outside our organization, both superiors and peers. Peers are especially important because there aren’t enough managers for all the people who would like a mentor. Besides this, it has been shown that we want to learn from our peers. Randstad learned in 2009 that employees were more likely to turn to coworkers, teachers, or professors as role models rather than business leaders. Therefore, a network of mentors that includes peers would be more relevant to those who don’t aspire to management. Peer groups are being used effectively to mentor people in organizations.

I’ve asked thousands of managers what they find most rewarding in their jobs, and the most frequent answer is mentoring – helping younger and less experience people grow, develop, and achieve what they didn’t believe they were capable of. It would be tragic if some managers never got to experience this thrill because they thought they were too busy, or because they were stuck in the past.

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Register for my FREE Soundview Executive Book Summaries webinar!


Be sure to register for my FREE 1 hour webinar with Soundview Executive Book Summaries, coming up this Thursday, June 19th at 12p EDT. Registration IS required, and all who register will also receive a FREE copy of my Sticking Points executive book summary. Too good of a deal to pass up!

Register today!

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FAQ #3 – Generational generalizations: Does location matter?


Today I’ll address another question I’m most frequently asked about the generations…

To what extent do generational generalizations apply in different regions of the U.S. and in other countries?

People are shaped by so many things – culture, family values, age, religious affiliation, access to media, education, socioeconomic status – and generational differences are only one of those lenses by which we can view and understand them. In general, though, the closer people are to farming, the more conservative they are, and the more they are a blend of their own and the previous generation. Because of this, the coasts are more likely to match the generational generalizations, whereas people in the South and Midwest tend to have more characteristics of the preceding generation.

While the generational generalizations I present in Sticking Points are primarily drawn from research in the U.S. and Canada, there are some common factors that made a similar impact on many other parts of the world: the Industrial Revolution, World War II, and access to Western media.

  • Industrial Revolution – The move from rural to urban areas created greater discontinuity with the past and greater openness to new ideas. Many of the generational differences are more pronounced in cities.
  • World War II – Countries that participated in the war most likely had their own “baby booms”, though they may have had them later. Many European countries had booms six or seven years after the U.S. and Canada due to the time it took them to rebuild after the war.
  • Access to Western media – The more experiences people share, especially when young, the more common characteristics they have, even if they live in different parts of the world. Access to global media has made the world smaller.
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