The generational mix in the labor force is fascinating to observe. For the first time ever, we are getting used to having five separate generations working together. This trend is producing some marvelous innovation confluences while simultaneously creating challenges for some.
In the past, professionals often cultivated one or two mentors. With the advent of the millennials, that model has diminished. Millennials view the powerful context of social media, constantly changing technology, and sometimes generational resistance to change as all necessitating a new approach to mentoring. Millennials do not automatically adopt your father’s mentoring model. Instead, they take a broader, pragmatic, and more fluid strategy.
Given our current world, I cannot blame them one bit. Besides, since when does just one mentor hold all the wisdom a mentee will ever need for his or her future? Leading the way with this approach, millennials are cultivating multiple mentors in different contexts and for different purposes. This approach makes sense to me for several reasons:
Time Demands. By cultivating multiple mentors, the time demands upon any individual mentor diminish. The mentee is free to pursue mentor relationships as his or her time allows. In our very busy world today, no one would see that as a detriment.
Investment Diversification. Just as in monetary investments, by spreading your assets around, you reduce the risk of moving in the wrong direction. Sometimes one mentor will perfectly complement another mentor. There is safety in a multitude of counselors.
Maximum Exposure. Mentors are valuable not only for the insights they provide, but also for the opportunities they can catalyze. By having more than one mentor, you maximize the exposure for new opportunities. Moreover, these days, you never know from where a new opportunity may develop.
Social Media. Who more than the millennials can tell us about social media’s value? Some mentor relationships are conducted entirely in an online network. Most of those relationships would never have existed prior to the Internet.
Mentoring has always been a major part of leadership. For the watchful professional, today’s world offers a wealth of mentor/mentee opportunities.