Millennials and Baby Boomers…Try Reciprocal Mentoring

I have written a few papers about Millennials and Baby Boomers in the workplace. Maybe because I am a Boomer and my son is a Millennial, the subject interests me.  In addition, I enjoy working with younger people and know that they have much to offer. One of the things I hear from clients is that they hired a younger person, twenty-something, to do their social media but after a few months they had to let them go.  Why?  The answer I get is that they didn’t understand what was appropriate for the business or how to market the business on social media.  In other words, they had all the technical skills but not the business savvy.  Of course, Millennials are hired in many different industries and these days it is almost impossible to get away from new technology in any industry.

We know that Millennials can figure out new technology in the blink of an eye.  Problem with my Android Smartphone?  I ask someone under 30.  They can even text with their phone in their pocket, comes in handy when you aren’t supposed to be texting while in class.  Not a big surprise.  In the sixth grade my best friend and I attached our desks with a rope so we could pass notes.  We were caught but so what.

As Millennials enter our workforce and progress through their careers, it would be a help to everyone if they could align their ease and comfort with technology with business acumen.  Give them some “mentoring” and let them “mentor” Boomers right back.   Set up your reciprocal mentoring program so that it works:

  • Pick people that you feel will mesh from a personality standpoint
  • Set goals for the mentoring pair that are reasonable and attainable
  • Be sure that goals are communicated and understood
  • Have an atmosphere of non-judgement so that both parties can openly discuss what is working and what is not working
  • Oversee the relationship with regular meetings to ensure that all is going smoothly and that progress is being made for both parties
  • Don’t force this issue – you will have Millennials and Boomers who want to learn from each other

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