It’s calving season at our farm.  Apparently I say calf strange, as my office mate pointed out.  He said when I say it, it sounds like Kevin season.  What does he know….he is scared of spiders!  Ha

As I look at the new babies I think about how they are treated.  The moms are so very protective.  In fact, they are protective of all the calves.  If my dogs happen through the pasture those moms make certain they keep moving or she will offer encouragement as she believes the dogs are threats.

After a few days the momma cows create a nursery.  One momma can have seven or eight babies with her at any one time, as I assume to protect.  The other mommas are out finding nourishment so they can continue to provide for their family. 

So that has me thinking, do we do the same in the professional world?  Do we “mentor” all of our co-workers, or are we here to do a job and leave?  Are we providing for our younger workers?  Or do we leave that to their managers alone?  At some point it seems, as a work society, we became offended when mentoring is offered by someone outside of our reporting structure.

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal suggests mentoring programs are key to developing the millennials.

I hear we struggle employing our gen Y’s.  They don’t know how rules work, they don’t have the same work ethic, they need constant approvals…..  Let’s change our approach.  Move into a more focused, dedicated approach towards each person.  The ME component that can get lost in corporate America.  Make it as personal as we can. For years we taught people to be friendly but not necessarily friends with co-workers.  That day has passed.  We now need to find the ME in Mentoring.

  1. The culture should be transparent and trusting.  If the management team does not trust each other, or consistently throws each other’s reputation under the bus, then there is no way group mentoring will ever work.  If the right environment exists then words of encouragement, testimonials, diversity in thought should be well received.  Just image if a manager gives your direct report advice.  If you have bad mouthed that manager to your direct report, the probability of direct report receiving it well is unlikely.  And how sad, in the event the advice was good.

  2. Managers need to understand how to mentor.  Positivity is a must.  Regardless your generation, positive influence makes a difference.  Bad news handed to you with a smile is so much easier to swallow.  Too many managers make the mistake of being overly critical as a mode of operation.

  3. The after the mentoring conversation.  Mentoring is not a moment in time.  It’s not lunch.  In fact, stop going to lunch with your protégé so the habit of creating good habits in the workplace become alive and well at that moment.  If you, the manager, provide mentoring advice, your responsibility is to watch the protégé for improvement at work.  The behaviors we watch are the ones that get repeated.  So praise improvement.  So critical yet so easy.

  4. Social.  Gen Y’s are very social.  If there are opportunities to make mentoring all about the group, take it.  Lunch and learns themed towards the struggles of the younger team members, small projects that are designed to help them learn and led by a more seasoned team member, anything that will give the team member a chance to network and not feel intimidated or judged by other workers.

  5. Walk the Talk.  Now, instead of a few direct reports watching your every move, you have increased the watchers exponentially.  As it should be.  You should lead by example at every moment and opportunity you get.  I guess the true test of community mentoring is when someone other than your boss gives you advice that your walk isn’t quite right. 

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