I recently had someone ask me, “As a college recruiting specialist, what keeps you up at night?” My simple answer—a current culture too lazy to hold the next generation’s hand. It’s as if the invention of hand sanitizer has given older generations just cause to wash their hands of mentoring new talent for fear the Millennial contact will somehow taint their progress.
It’s a professional West Side Story where the independent Latch Key Generation X Kids thumb their noses at the codependent, Entitlement Generation Y Kids. But why can’t we just do a flash mob and play nice in our professional sandboxes?
In my opinion, organizations are stuck in a parent trap. You know that cliché place where we become our parents and can’t understand why the younger generation doesn’t do things the way we did them when we entered the workforce. Truth be told, despite the bad rap Millennials get for being high-maintenance attention sponges, their demands for on-going feedback, structure and continuous challenges aren’t that far-fetched. As a matter of fact, it’s nothing different than any other generation has sought from their careers. Millennials have just been bold enough to hold their managers and employers accountable for their responsibilities as good talent managers. Something we ALL should be entitled to.
You see, organizations need to recognize the new talent common denominators. Whether they’re interns or fresh hires, these individuals are new to the professional realm and need guidance. They’ve recently made the leap from School Street to Career Highway and aren’t used to traveling without a navigation system.
This is why mentoring is such a critical resource for their success.
There’s no prior experience for them to use as a litmus test. So make sure your interns and new hires have a point of contact to act as their GPS for all of the cultural, political and professional nuances that will cross their roads not traveled.
For example, my company recently hosted a speed networking event as part of its professional development training series. It was offered to all employee levels with a basic invitation asking everyone to attend. Attendance was good; however, everyone was surprised that very few interns or new hires had made an appearance.
Turns out, many of the interns and new hires didn’t know what speed networking was, what to expect from the experience, or what questions to ask. So instead of making themselves look more inexperienced than they already appeared, they missed a development opportunity.
Without proper guidance and mentoring, who knows how many more development opportunities are lost like candles in the wind? Failure follows the man who walks the path of assumptions. However, if you have some form of mentoring in place, the relationships and culture will start with everyone on the same page and create a better chapter in all of our professional lives. Who knows, you may find yourself re-writing a few of your own chapters based on your experience with these X factors. Until this happens, however, I’ll continue to keep the Ambien reps employed with dreams of cross-generational hand shakes and communal bottles of hand sanitizers dancing in my head.