Millenials are defined as those born between 1980 and 2000 who are coming of age in the new century. Pew Research says they are the most racially and ethnically diverse as well as the most progressively political in our nation's history. However, it's the fact that Millenials view texting, tweeting, and facebooking not as innovations, but as part of everyday life, that has the most impact for mentoring.
At Management Mentors, we have always maintained that mentoring is about having a quality relationship with a more experienced person who facilitates the development of the mentoree. It is this component that is being challenged the most by advanced technology. Here, it is probably important to make a distinction between communicating and relating. Clearly, Facebook, Twitter and other technologies and social networking sites allow people to communicate more quickly and more often. The danger is that we mistake communication for the relating that takes place in a mentoring relationship.
For mentoring to succeed, there must be time spent in building trust--getting to know the other person both personally and professionally--in order to establish the goals of the relationship and create an effective and meaningful mentoring experience.
The challenge for Millenials is to focus so much on communicating through technology and mistaking this for mentoring. The challenge for non-Millenial mentors is to make the case to the mentoree that quality of time spent face-to-face or via phone is far superior to the other technologies. This is not to say that these other technologies don't have value for mentoring-they do! But they should be used as secondary tools to share knowledge in preparation for a mentoring session or as follow-up after such sessions.
So enjoy texting, tweeting and all those others methods of communicating. But when it comes to mentoring, it's best done the old fashioned way--meeting face to face and spending quality time together.
Have you been struggling with a mentoring relationship between a Millenial and a non-Millenial? As always, We would love to hear your questions and comments.