5 Tips on Mentoring a Millennial at Work

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With graduation season upon us, college seniors are doing more than packing up dorm rooms and getting sized for their caps and gowns. Many of these eager young professionals are preparing for their first day at new jobs.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), approximately 1,855,000 students will be graduating as a part of the class of 2015 at the bachelor's degree level. While four years of lectures and finals have prepared them in some way for their positions, these fresh grads understand that on-the-job experience provides a unique value valuable to promote their professional development.

The twenty-somethings of this generation are unlike those that have come before them. Having grown up immersed in technology, they have figured out ways to use it to minimize the learning curve.

That means they arrived primed with the confidence that they can make valuable contributions right from the start, and they seek constant opportunities to grow. This enthusiasm and drive brings a fresh perspective and energy to your organization, but it can present some management challenges.

Here are five tips to help you tackle the challenging, yet rewarding task of mentoring a young professional at work.

1. Prioritize mentorship

No doubt, you're busy juggling deadlines and projects. But when managing a younger staff, committing to dedicated training time can benefit you and the new employee"”and, ideally, the whole organization. Setting expectations and teaching skills up front shortens the time to productivity and sets the tone for future collaboration. Make mentorship a priority by scheduling weekly check-ins to facilitate an ongoing conversation about professional development and road blocks.

2. Make learning a two-way street

Millennials can provide a unique perspective and understanding. Take time to learn from the people you are coaching. An open approach that is conversational can help new employees feel valued and inspire hard work.

3. Find out what skills are desired

Because each person has their own unique working style, mentors often need to create mentoring strategies that accommodate their style. Mentoring can vary from vague discussions to intensive hands-on sessions. Discuss objectives and goals upfront with a mentee so you can understand their needs and stay on track. Have your mentor elaborate on how specific desired skills can help them grow both in the short and long term. If they are unsure where to begin, encourage them to do some basic research in a professional field beforehand.

4. Determine a plan to achieve them

Once a millennial has expressed the various ways they hope to grow, it's important for mentors to review the list and provide the new grads with the resources they need to succeed. This can range from recommending a relevant book or sending them to a conference. Obviously companies have varying budgets for learning and development so it's important to be mindful about the resources you offer. Can you teach some of these skills in house? How can you empower them to learn and grow independently? Asking these questions can help you figure out the right plan for your college grad. Have your mentee write down the plan of action and put deadlines on each task so that both parties can be held accountable.

5. Encourage opportunities to execute

The direct benefit to training and mentoring an employee is that they are going to be more committed and ambitious employees at work. Once a millennial has learned their sought after skills, allow them the opportunity to practice. The more they practice, the better they will be in time. While mentoring may see time consuming at first, over time a mentee will likely gain confidence and independence.

Anyone can be a mentor. Encourage your mentees to pass along the wisdom by coaching someone of their own. Share this article with them to help them get started!

Hiba Haider

Hiba Haider


Hiba is an expert product marketer with a background in inbound and digital marketing. She writes about recruiting, HR laws, and how to build a great culture and is a proud Babson alumna.

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