Never before in history has there been five generations working side-by-side as there is today. A multi-generational workplace presents opportunities for the advancement of knowledge and experience, and engenders an ideal environment for mentorship. Mentoring has, and always will matter. It is often the "secret sauce" of success. Mentorship also strengthens collaboration skills of both mentor and mentee, and enhances the understanding of diverse generational needs.
A mentor is someone who has knowledge and is willing to share it with another. The ideal situation is one where both parties in this exchange have an open mind, avoid a spirit of judgment, and entertain a genuine desire to learn from one another.
The role of mentor has traditionally been the domain of an older, wiser person who takes a younger, less experienced person under their wing. Yet, this is not always the case, particularly today. A lot can be gained from cross-generational mentor relationships, whether the mentor is younger or older than the mentee. An authentic and powerful mentorship can occur when two people come together, regardless of age or years of experience, to support and provide feedback to one another. Knowing that someone is willing to be present and offer wisdom and guidance can be life changing.
Mentoring works best when there is a parity of respect between the two parties, combined with a level playing field. This means that there is no grandstanding or power plays by the mentor and no feelings of intimidation or hesitation on the part of the mentee. Here are some guidelines to consider when forging a successful mentor/mentee relationship:
Tips for the mentor:
- Be clear on the purpose of the mentorship. In other words, what do you hope to accomplish by mentoring this individual? What would you like to get out of the relationship?
- Be available as promised. When you and the mentee agree to meet, or talk on the phone on certain days and times, honor that commitment.
- Be fully present and honest with your feedback and comments to the mentee. The mentee is there to learn from you and to grow in their capability. They can only do that if you are authentic and share your opinions and recommendations in all honesty.
Tips for the mentee:
- Be clear on the purpose of this engagement. What is the goal of this relationship? What do you want out of the experience?
- Show up on time and be fully prepared. If you were given homework, make sure it is completed prior to the session. The mentor is providing you with the valuable resource of time. So always fulfill your commitment and show your gratitude and appreciation of the mentor's time.
- Think about how you can bring value to the mentor. In other words, is there a problem that the mentor is working on that you could provide assistance on? This can take the form of research on his/her behalf or providing information of interest, such as new study, a news story or a contact that may assist them.