Mentoring Millennials

I’m a member of Gen X. There are some 50 million members of my age cohort, born between 1965 and 1976. If the demographers are correct, I distrust institutions, strive for work-life balance, and expect to change jobs frequently. Millennials, the generation born after me, work well in groups, embrace technology, and thrive on structure.

In the mentoring literature, several authors recommend tailoring mentorship to different generational styles. For Gen X, that means a more casual, hands-off approach. Millennials, on the other hand, thrive on structured meetings.

I endorse flexibility in mentoring programs, but I can’t help but liken these recommendations to astrology. Does everyone born in the same twenty-year span share similar characteristics? What was the dramatic shift that happened on January 1, 1977? Or was it 1980? Just the fact that experts can’t agree on the boundaries of each generation attests to how squishy a theory this is.

The best mentoring programs are based on research into learning styles. They should be interactive and relevant. That way participants of all ages can benefit.

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