Updated: Nov 16, 2020
For the first time in history we have five generations together in the workplace, from Traditionalists to Gen Z. While every person is different for various reasons, it can be most productive to separate their training methods by generation. This is because the ideologies of each generation are typically formed by their shared experiences. Laura Francis at Training Industry and Donna Fuscaldo at Business News Daily detail good practices for mentoring across generations.
Intern Pursuit is committed to helping employers close Power Skill gaps to improve team communication in a multigenerational workforce. Each generation has lived through historic events and technology advancements that brings a rich depth of wisdom and experience that is mutually beneficial to all.
1. Take advantage of generational trends.
While many view an attachment to technology as a bad thing, there are many benefits to Gen Z being so attached to technology. They are generally more tech savvy and can get the hang of digital programs quicker than others.
Knowing your way around niche software programs is a unique skill and is very valuable to HR. While this doesn’t mean millennials and Gen Z will know these programs before they start the job, they may have a quicker and smoother learning process compared to other generations. These generations, having lived through so many pivotal changes in technology, are also more inclined to go with the flow. This is an integral skill in any business – Gen Z and millennials are able to grow with the company and strengthen it.
2. Use mentoring software.
Using mentoring software can help you to make sure that your employee is getting a mentor experience that is tailored to their needs and how they learn best.
Software programs are able to assign mentors and mentees without any bias. This method allows the person to input that information and find others like them. It eliminates the bias from things like age and generational stereotypes from the equation so that everyone is paired with someone who will help them learn and succeed.
3. Tailor your training.
Speaking of tailoring your information, there are optimal ways to cater information to each generation.
For example, Gen Z typically takes in information best when it’s given in bite-sized pieces. While they grew up, they learned that they had endless information at their fingertips, all while being thrown into the world of social media, where everything is consumed under two minutes. This ended in a strong ability to intake information quickly, albeit with a short attention span. This also means that millennials and Gen Z like to have their information on an as-needed basis, and it can help to give them the choice between text and an audio or visual option.
4. Let them decide how they learn best.
The person that knows yourself best is always you. While most may assume Gen Z and millennials prefer to text over meeting in person, everyone has different preferences.
Letting the employee explain their preference and how they learn best can be extremely beneficial. Giving them all the resources they need to succeed will make them feel more comfortable and motivated. It also means they will learn much easier and have more confidence in the workplace.
5. Offer multiple types of mentoring.
Going off of everyone knowing how they learn best, you can do your part by providing many different options for mentoring. Older generations may prefer to be more hands-on while millennials and Gen Z might want to take in all the information before they dive in.
6. Check in on your younger employees.
It’s always good to check in on your employees once in a while. No matter your age or generation, it feels good when your hard work is noticed and commended.
Millennials and Gen Z particularly thrive from being told if they’re doing a good job or not. Likely stemming from the use of social media, it helps for members of these generations to be reassured that they are doing a good job or told what they are doing wrong. For these reasons, it’s probably a good idea to formally review employees at least twice a year – after all, it can’t hurt to frequently check up on everyone.
7. Be transparent.
Gen Z and millennials have lived through a lot of events that are rooted in uncertainty. The Great Recession and a pandemic may have instilled certain fears in members of these generations – will they be able to keep their job? What if something else unexpected happens?
They are very cautious of the choices they make and whether or not they have a backup plan. It can be helpful to carefully explain the steps involved in moving up in the organization or achieving job security. Moving up the corporate ladder is a priority for Gen Z.
8. Be thorough.
Gen Z is known for questioning everything. However, this is rarely a sign of disrespect. Having grown up with technology, millennials and Gen Z are used to heading to YouTube and getting in-depth lessons for anything they want to learn. If instructions are purposefully vague, you may find yourself receiving a lot of questions from your younger employees about specifics.
9. Familiarize yourself with their priorities.
Each generation tends to have a couple priorities they are known for. Diversity and career development are important to Gen Z, opportunity for growth within a company is important to millennials.
This can help to know how to motivate your employees. Even if you do a great job mentoring, motivation can be an entirely different issue. Catering your language and focus to match that of the employee’s priorities can make them feel more driven.
10. Don’t overuse stereotypes.
While there can be many ways to cater a mentorship to each generation, everyone learns and processes differently.
If there’s too much focus on separating everyone on the basis of what generation they’re part of, it can do more harm than good. As Francis mentions, “if you went by generational stereotypes, you may think that Gen X wants to use email rather than video chatting.” This can cause problems as our technology and society are constantly evolving and small assumptions like that may not line up with that person’s preferences.
"People are complex, take time to understand the historic events, technology advancements that are/were relevant to each generation, and personality types to improve company culture" shared Isabella Johnston, owner/founder of Intern Pursuit. Subscribe to our blog to help you develop the most valuable asset in your business, your people.