In tough times, people matter. Ensuring your staff are passionate and focused is a critical leadership task right now. One of the most effective techniques for motivating your younger staff in particular is to provide ongoing development for them, especially providing access to senior leaders and mentoring. Here are some tips to help you make the most of such mentoring relationships.

  • Mentoring takes time. Today’s “I want it now” young people need to understand that it takes the time it takes to do properly. Make sure you do some expectation management right upfront about how often you can meet, what you think is achievable, and what you’d like to offer.
  • Be clear about the purpose and boundaries of your mentor relationship.
  • Today’s young people don’t open up immediately. They need to get to know you, and they need to know they can trust you. Persevere with them and don’t give up too easily if they make it tough for you – they’re actually just checking you’re willing to go the distance with them.
  • Consider digital mentoring as a component of the relationship. Be prepared to answer emails and text messages, and initiate some of this contact yourself. But don’t let them go totally digital – face to face time is vital for good mentoring.
  • Mentor the whole person, not just for the job description. Do some of the mentoring away from the office environment. Spend some of your time focusing on non-work related issues. Show an interest in their hobbies and non-work activities.
  • Try and include some on the job, practical content, ensuring your mentoring is not all theoretical.
  • Don’t forget to “reverse mentor” too. Young people have grown up helping their parents work out how to use the remote controls, and sorting out the household technology. Let them mentor their bosses on technology use in the office.
  • Get them to mentor each other – make sure they have a “buddy”, and not just at their own company. They have to be taught how to network effectively – it doesn’t come naturally to them.
  • Keep mentoring them, even when they leave your company. This sounds a powerful message to the remaining staff that you really care about them as people, not just as workers.
  • Never assume that the mind you’re talking to is closed. Just because young people dress or act differently from you doesn’t mean they’re not taking in what you’ve said.
  • Explain WHY. Don’t just tell them what to do, and how to do it. Tell them why it works. Knowing why makes all the difference for today’s young people.
  • Have fun.
  • Keep at it! Not every attempt to connect with young people will have immediate results.

What tips would you add to our list?

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