Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

Summary:Tech mentors: allowing two vastly different generations, older and younger, to co-exist and to work together. Would it work?

It's no secret that, though this is a business and enterprise oriented site and community, the vast majority of the Generation Y is not in the least bit enterprise focused, savvy or even interested.

This poses a significant problem for business leaders today.

Inspired by a post I read Katherine Meyer, written in inspiration by a piece I wrote some weeks back (already confusing); this article purports that the myth goes that the Generation Y "constantly need praise" is on the most part untrue.

Instead, mentoring and guidance is vital and necessary to our collective personal development.

Image via Flickr.

I am lucky enough to have here a behind-the-scenes mentor, Jason Perlow, along with other significant colleagues, guiding me through the vast depths of new media's newfangled ways of adding to the ever increasing heat of what was one "traditional media".

But why not draw this out across the board? Probably because the benefits actually outweigh the negatives, and most people hate working for free on anything. Plus, because it does not appear to be the norm, businesses and enterprises are reluctant to change or adapt.

The notion is simple. For each new Generation Y employee, assign them a mentor -- someone who actually wants to do it over someone relegated to the task -- on a voluntary basis, to be on hand as and when issues arise with the younger, more naive employee.

The mentor should not be limited necessarily to technology; because the Generation Y has that already in the bag. But instead, focusing on business skills, smart sense and the corporate feel we have yet to grasp.

Workplaces are insular communities. Each and every community has a zest -- a feel to it -- where one needs to learn and adapt to this strange, bewildering place; especially if one has not been to university to learn the life skills necessary to adapt to strange environments.

Some companies do this in various ways; mostly as a way of enabling new employees learn the ropes and the idiosyncrasies of the working world.

But the disparity arises where often, unfortunately more often than not, particularly in temporary workspaces or employment, Generation Y new employees are left to their own devices and then criticised for not towing the corporate line.

It's no doubt a hypocrisy we've all seen in the working world.

Oddly enough, it happens at college -- perhaps the first learning curve for many. This strange, semi-formal environment where one can speak to their professors on first name terms yet are chastised still for note taking on a BlackBerry. This powerful learning curve teaches one how to behave in an informal, indirect way.

Mentors could be there for the 'rehabilitation' of one's mannerisms and cultural norms from generational experience, or to simply lend a hand with the day-to-date learning process of complex, often rarely used enterprise systems.

Digital natives may well have an innate processing ability to understand, feel knowledge about and for, and 'empathise' with a piece of technology, software or platform, but it does not mean we are all knowing sentient beings.

Though the age old joke goes that while both the United States and the United Kingdom are two nations separated by a common language, the same cannot necessarily be said about the two generations: older and younger.

While the older generations are still vastly reluctant to engage fully with their younger generational cousins, in my experience, the two could find some common ground in form of a generational gap-filling mentor scheme.

Topics: CXO

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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