Business Daily Media

5 tips on how to be a good mentor to someone twice your age

  • Written by Julie Nyanjom, Lecturer - School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University

Plato and Aristotle. Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey. Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. In each of these famous relationships it was the older person with more experience acting as mentor, guiding the much younger “mentee” in their career.

But changes in the modern workplace suggest we will increasingly see more circumstances in which mentors may be younger – sometimes much younger – than their mentees.

Think back to starting a new job. Even if your workplace didn’t have a formal mentorship program – pairing you with a more experienced colleague, separate to your manager, whose role was to help you succeed – it’s likely at least one person took you “under their wing” informally.

Who will do the same for the 63-year-old returning to a workplace that looks and operates differently to the one he or she left a decade ago?

Workplaces must prepare for an ageing workforce. Twenty years ago, just a quarter of Australia’s population kept working after they turned 55. Now a third do[1], and the proportion will continue to rise. As people stay in the workforce longer and change jobs more often, it’s increasingly likely there will be times an older colleague might benefit from mentoring.

It isn’t even necessary to be new to an organisation. Some companies that recognise the value of staying current are embracing “reverse mentoring”, in which millennials can school older executives on technology and cultural trends.

But social norms and expectations about age and experience can make it hard[2] for someone younger to be the mentor.

So how do you get it right?

Why it matters

Generalisations about generational differences[3] are common. Perhaps you’ve read[4] baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) value loyalty, and gen-xers (born between 1965 and 1980) work-life balance, while millennials crave innovation and change.

Such notions are more myth than fact. Stereotyping people by their membership of an age group is no less problematic than doing it according to ethnicity or gender. It can encourage unhealthy biases[5] and create barriers to communication and understanding.

image A typical image portrayal of ‘millennials’ being addicted to their portable media devices. Shutterstock.com

A better term than “reverse mentoring” is “inclusive mentoring”. This takes the focus off thinking there is a “natural” age order to mentoring and puts the emphasis on simply encouraging shared learning between colleagues. Everyone has something of value to learn, or teach, in a respectful environment free from age or hierarchical biases.

The key is to be conscious of the barriers. You must be aware of the stereotypes and biases[6] - that influence expectations and perceptions to do with age, but also of the chance that different experiences can lead to different outlooks to life.

Start out by asking your colleague about their expectations of their new role, their understanding of their tasks, their past work experience, and how they anticipate the relationship going.

It’s important to remember the essentials of mentoring practice. These remain the same. A mentoring relationship is about support, sharing knowledge and insights, and being a friend. Both mentor and mentee bring something to the table.

Five top tips

  1. Understand stereotypical assumptions influence the potential success of the mentoring relationship. Tension is more likely if either of you have negative perceptions of the other based on age difference. Training in how to identify your unconscious biases might be a good idea before you start

  2. open and respectful communication should be the focus. Start the conversation by clarifying the objectives of the mentoring relationship between both of you. Being clear and focused is a good basis for mutual respect

  3. give yourselves adequate time to settle into the relationship. Your outlook towards life and work may be different. Give yourself time to get to know one another and to find common ground

  4. be open and willing to learn. You might know more about some things, but your colleague is likely to know things you don’t. Think of the mentoring relationship as a collaborative partnership where mutual learning takes place

  5. it’s OK to be apprehensive. You may feel challenged. Your colleague may feel just as uncomfortable. But with time and effort this apprehension will fade.

Becoming a good mentor, or a good mentee, isn’t automatic. It takes takes time and effort[7]. But it is worth the effort, enriching the experience and skills of both parties, and contributing to an organisation able to compete in a changing world.

References

  1. ^ a third do (www.abs.gov.au)
  2. ^ can make it hard (link.springer.com)
  3. ^ generational differences (www.sciencedirect.com)
  4. ^ Perhaps you’ve read (www.amanet.org)
  5. ^ unhealthy biases (link.springer.com)
  6. ^ the stereotypes and biases (link.springer.com)
  7. ^ takes time and effort (www.tandfonline.com)

Authors: Julie Nyanjom, Lecturer - School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University

Read more http://theconversation.com/5-tips-on-how-to-be-a-good-mentor-to-someone-twice-your-age-114189

Business Today

1 in 6 US kids are in families below the poverty line

The official child poverty rate is about the same today as in 1967.More Than Words Photography by Alisa Brouwer/Moment Open via Getty ImagesCC BY-NDIn the United States, children are more likely to experience poverty than people o...

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make the company one of the largest buyers of ...

What you need to know about the Defense Production Act – the 1950s law Biden invoked to try to end the baby formula shortage

Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of baby formula. AP Photo/David J. PhillipU.S. President Joe Biden on May 18, 2022, announced he is invoking the Defense Production Act to help end the shortage of ...

Baby formula industry was primed for disaster long before key factory closed down

Cities are trying to address the baby formula shortage with community drives.AP Photo/David J. PhillipThe conditions that led to a shortage of baby formula were set in motion long before the February 2022 closure of the Similac fa...

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual workspace more comfortable. Employees are ...

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’s sovereign capabilities toward in-space...

Business Daily Media Business Development

the supermarket business model is too fragile to shield customers from rising food prices

Shutterstock/photocriticalFood prices, like almost everything else, are rising fast. There have recently been warnings of “apocalyptic” costs, and a declaration that the “e...

Lisa Jack, Professor of Accounting, University of Portsmouth - avatar Lisa Jack, Professor of Accounting, University of Portsmouth

How soaring inflation can be particularly harmful for young people

Shutterstock/SpeedKingzInflation rates have become almost impossible to ignore. In the UK, inflation has soared in recent months, now reaching 9% – the highest rate for 40 years. The B...

Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, Associate Professor in Economics, University of East London - avatar Shampa Roy-Mukherjee, Associate Professor in Economics, University of East London

it won't control interest rates and inequality will widen

The UK local elections in May saw gains for nationalists in Scotland and Northern Ireland, raising the prospect of increased debates over the future make-up of the country. In Scotland, Firs...

Eoin McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University College Cork - avatar Eoin McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University College Cork

Hunt and Brew launches Australia-first cold brew coffee

Australian boutique coffee maker Hunt and Brew has announced it will be sourcing the beans for its new “Australia” cold brew coffee from far north Queensland in a move that will make t...

NewsServices.com - avatar NewsServices.com

Utilising communication tech to alleviate employee burn out

Hybrid work solidified into the business model in 2021 – plain and simple. Jabra research revealed 42 per cent of employees last year requested leadership to help make their virtual wo...

David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra - avatar David Piggott, Managing Director ANZ at Jabra

Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission. Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’...

Business Daily Media - avatar Business Daily Media



NewsServices.com

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion