7 Challenges to Mentoring Millennials and How to Overcome Them

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7 Challenges to Mentoring Millennials and How to Overcome Them

7 Challenges to Mentoring Millennials and How to Overcome Them

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce will consist of Millennials. It is also estimated that approximately 60% of Millennials leave their companies in less than three years. Additionally, it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each lost Millennial. The consequences of not managing Millennials are costly, and human capital managers need to respond quickly to the changing workforce in their organizations.

Can mentoring help with the retention of Millennials? We believe so, if organizations can overcome these seven challenges.

1. A Flexible Mentoring Program

Mentoring programs can be informal or formal. The challenge with informal programs is a heavier reliance on mentees finding good mentors and no incorporation of best practices. Larger organizations typically have mentoring programs but they have not adapted to Millennials who are looking for more flexibility and balance in their careers. The good news is that they want to be mentored and coached.

Our solution is for organizations to reassess their mentoring programs from a Millennial workforce perspective.

  • How can we make our mentoring program valuable to Millennials?
  • Can we align our mentoring programs to our talent development strategy and process?
  • Should we reevaluate our goals and objectives?
  • Are our mentoring programs flexible to Millennial needs?
  • Do we need to re-engineer our mentoring process?
  • How will we measure results to know that the program is effective?
  • Do we have support and commitment at all appropriate levels?

Putting a cross-functional team together of key stakeholders is critical, and recommendations need to be incorporated in the organization’s strategic plan for proper support and funding.

2. Proof that Mentoring is Good Business

If human capital managers can’t prove the success of mentoring programs, then they are at risk of losing funding in the next round of budget cuts. Unfortunately, training and development budgets are constantly under scrutiny so these programs must show business value to the organization.

We suggest developing specific and relevant measurements of program success in the planning stage. Metrics should tie back to organizational goals, be reported on regularly, and drive continual improvement. Presenting information to decision makers on how mentoring programs are working ensures long term management support and funding.

3. Senior Managers Aren’t Necessarily Qualified Mentors

The assumption that just because senior managers have had successful careers makes them qualified to be mentors is a faulty one. The skills required to be a successful manager need to be supplemented with mentoring skills. It is also dangerous to assume that all senior managers want to be mentors to Millennials.

While we recognize that there may be a shortage of good mentors, we don’t recommend allowing just anyone to become one. Mentoring programs need to qualify both mentor and mentee candidates. Assessments should determine if participants have the right skills and experience, but more importantly, mentors should have a desire to mentor others and be willing to commit to a mentoring partnership. Mentoring programs should then equip them with the right skills to effectively interact and communicate with Millennials.

4. Who’s on First?

While mentoring programs should and often do define roles and responsibilities, they need to factor in the changing roles of mentors, mentees and managers. Does it make sense for managers to be formal mentors? Where should the line be drawn between the manager-employee and mentor-mentee relationships?

Roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined and made accessible to all stakeholders. Eliminate employees dropping out of mentoring programs by creating proper training materials for mentors, mentees and manager. More importantly, make the materials easily accessible so that they are used often.

5. Mandated Mentoring

Motivating people to change is often rewarded by creating incentives to achieve corporate goals and objectives. However, when mentoring programs are unilaterally mandated, change efforts can be perceived as punishment, instead of an opportunity for growth. This can result in a failed program.

Mentoring programs need to be voluntary. Those that participate should be recognized and rewarded appropriately. Having the right incentives to create the right behaviors is critical.

6. No Value to Millennials

Without understanding what motivates Millennials in general or their mentee specifically, mentoring programs can be driven by what mentors think Millennials should learn – not what the Millennials feel they need to learn. We recommend that mentoring partnerships be mentee-driven. Mentors should guide, but the Millennial as the mentee must drive the partnership for it to be effective. Processes need to put the Millennials in the driver’s seat, and training should reinforce the need for partnerships to be mentee-driven.

7. Management of Mentoring Programs

With so many types of mentoring programs available such as one-on-one, peer, group, and reverse mentoring, etc., it can become difficult to manage them.

We highly recommend the use of technology to make management of mentoring programs more efficient and effective. An Enterprise Content Management system such as SharePoint can help if organized properly. Tools such as RapidMapper can make mentoring programs easier to administer and more accessible.

Human Capital Management is Our Core Competency

If you are facing similar challenges with your mentoring program, then contact us for a free consultation. For the last decade, we have helped Fortune 1000 companies create a smarter, more effective workforce. We do this by helping clients increase their effectiveness in integrated process design and delivery, people development and engagement, and talent management.