Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

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.

Topic: CXO

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  • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

    My experience was when I first started in a corporate environment, I was tasked with sending a fax. I am familiar with scanning and requesting a read-receipt to verify it arrived; however, I was called out for filling in the cover sheet with "1 of many". I did not realize that faxes do not always go through all the way and the cover sheet helps tell how many pages to expect. I have learned many other aspects of corporate enterprise nuances since, but that first lesson is always the one that makes me chuckle and wonder what pitfalls await me between traditional and new mediums.
    • Try criticising them.

      It's not that they need constant praise, it's they've never heard criticism. Try telling them they've done something wrong, or instruct them on a better method. If you can get them to listen they'll start to blame anything rather accept responsibility.<br><br>You fax story demonstrates there is much to learn after a formal education. Some of it is for a reason, much of it because it is the way it is.<br><br>GenY's arrogance and inability to take criticism (learning from mistakes is a big part of life ) combined with declining interest in IT as a career assures my next decade will be as rewarding as the past two:-)
      Richard Flude
      • What do you expect...

        @Richard Flude

        They grew up learning to play sports where <b>everyone</b> got a trophy. Everyone won and no one lost.
  • So the Gen-Y employee can learn to actually work.

    To learn things like, answering personal text messages they get within seconds is simply wrong?

    To learn things like sometimes it smart to just leave your phone at home for the first 6 months?

    To learn things like actually showing up on time? Coming in at 10:00am when you have 9:00am meetings is not OK.

    To learn that you actually have earn respect?

    Gen-Y are some of the worst workers I have run across. There are some good ones, but as a whole, they are the laziest group of people with an over-reaching sense of self-entitlement.
  • Deja vu vu

    I don't know how it could possibly work. Throughout human history, we have never before had older and younger generations working side by side. The idea is so new it defies understanding.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

    I have no problem mentoring any generation, it's not the generation, but a personality type that causes the problems.

    Let me make the analogy of World of Warcraft raiding. The best new players are the ones that turn up on time, have their flasks/food/gear enchants etc etc and have watched videos of the raid and read strategies and are prepared to LEARN.

    The worst are those that do no preparation, turn up late, use other people's food and have no idea of the strategy and the fight, yet beliee they know everything. No it's not a generation, it's people who have little empathy for others, do no preparation and expect other people to carry them. Unfortunately this personality type is prevalent.

    There may be more in Gen Y that other generations, but I suspect that may be just an old vs young bias.
  • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

    "criticised for not towing the corporate line."
    I see this a lot. Apply logic. One does not "tow" the company line behind. One steps carefully along it.

    "criticised for not toeing the corporate line."
    • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

      @mclemson@... Indeed.

      Comes from our houses of parliament, I gather. Two lines were drawn, two sword-lengths apart, marking the boundary of how far MPs on each side of the house were allowed to go. If an MP got a bit too heated and started advancing towards the opposite party, the Speaker would order him to "toe the line!".

      These days, of course, they're just not allowed to bring their swords to work. =:o}
  • Gen Y Needs More than Mentoring

    As a BabyBoomer, I'm stunned by the lack of technical savvy of my kids' (GenY) generation. Oh, they know about texting, Googling and the like, better than most of my Boomer generation I would think, but "Printer Not Responding", "Internet Connection Lost", "Server Not Responding"? Forget it. No clue of the underlying troubleshooting and problem solving skills for technology, let alone business skills. It makes me feel really good though. As a Boomer in the last part of my career, I have no fear of being out-shined or out maneuvered by this GenY generation. And by the time the Millennials get going, I should be comfortably retired.
    • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

      @emailjunk1@... My Gen Y person was astonished when I mentioned USENET last week. He'd never heard of it and it was "mind-blowing" to use his words. He just assumed he knew it all.<br><br>The mere thought there was other forms of network traffic that he didn't know about just didn't enter his head. <br><br>We had a chuckle about it...

      Then I went for the kill... "Ever heard of the ARM chip?" I said. "no....?" he said kind of warily.
    • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

      Unfortunately, learning proper thinking and problem solving skills have not been the focus for many generations of young people. <a href="">Attorney in Phoenix</a>
  • Looks like mostly none Gen Y Feedback

    As a Gen Y'er myself I'd like to point out who is responsible for "giving trophies to everyone" in the first place - not Gen Y!
    • RE: Tech mentors: Why every Generation Y employee needs one

      Mea culpa. I can't disagree. But those are social issues and for the same reason I can't believe that the Vietnam Boomer generation who suffered under the arrogance and hypocrisy of incompetent and deceitful government officials and sent us off to fight an unjust, unrelated and unwinnable conflict in Vietnam, are now the very ones in charge of sending our own sons and daughter off to fight an unjust, unrelated and unwinnable conflict in TWO (now maybe even three) places, that's a subject for another forum. This is about technological competency and work ethic.