Is There a Generational Gap in Valuing Mentorship?

At Engage Mentoring, we value all types of mentoring. While all mentoring relationships aim to improve outcomes, the scope and focus of the type of mentoring and relationship can vary. I recently co-facilitated a session on How to Drive Inclusion and Belonging Through Human Connection, where I discussed the social identity wheel and those cultural attributes that influence how an employee shows up in the workplace. We all have lived through professional experiences that shape our perspectives, behaviors, attitudes and values. I thought of this concept this week when speaking to a prospective client who had reservations about a specific population to target for the Engage Mentoring program.

We often find the more senior generation leaders are resistant to the idea of a formalized mentorship program, yet it is the very thing the new generation of employees are seeking. Many employers have gotten away with not having a formalized process for mentoring and it is usually easier to continue doing things as they have always been done.  When viewed through the lens of DEI, access to relationships is critical, especially for the younger generation of employees who are emerging into the workplace. This new generation of employees is asking better questions.  They are wanting to know how they are going to be supported and developed.  They want to see a clear path.  They also want regular feedback.  A formalized process for mentoring can address the knowledge transfer of the more senior leaders to the newer employees and it can also help those leaders spot talent, creating a win/win scenario for both mentor and mentee. At Engage Mentoring, we provide organizations with a tactic for retaining this new generation of employees and differentiating themselves in the marketplace. This is one of the reasons that for every employee sponsored in the Engage Mentoring employee program, we are able to sponsor a college student through our Aspiring Leaders program as a result of partnerships with key educational institutions and non-profits. It is an effective strategy to build one’s leadership capacity while impacting the next generation.

MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership recently released the results of a new survey. The survey showed that adults who were 40 and younger were 2-3 times more likely to say that they had been matched with a mentor through a program growing up than older adults. Although additional recruitment, retention, and program improvement efforts are vitally important, many of those surveyed across all generations stated that they did not know how to find a mentor or didn’t understand mentoring or the value of mentoring. As a result, employers should consider a mentoring program that contemplates a multi-generational population, but also allows space for peer-to-peer, cross-cultural and reverse mentoring to take place.

Yalonda Brown is a seasoned professional whose expertise spans over 20 years in both the private and public sectors. Her drive and self-determination has resulted in a myriad of demonstrable accomplishments as an intuitive leader, thought partner, and high functioning performer. Yalonda serves as the President of Diversity Initiatives for Engage Mentoring where she leads the national expansion of diversity-focused mentoring and leadership programs for companies, universities, and nonprofits.

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