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How to make the most of intergenerational mentoring

It’s not just senior staff who have things to offer

Nov 7, 2016

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Do you ever find that people of like age tend to clump together, whether at a social function or in the lunch room or upon exiting a corporate meeting? It’s a shame, and it’s time for your company to break down the barricades.

Intergenerational mentoring – in which not only do senior employees give guidance to the younger generation, but the kids mentor up, too – is a thing, and a number of finalists for Alberta’s Best Workplaces are making the most of it. “Progressive managers are realizing that each employee has their own work and communication style,” says Evan Thompson, a Toronto-based business consultant. “They are growing less concerned about labeling or ‘typing’ employees by cohort. They are now more interested in how employees can interact and share valuable insights to build trust and move the organization or business forward.”

In short, intergenerational mentoring encourages employees to understand how their colleagues of all ages think and work, and may even prompt them to know and like each other. More importantly, from the company’s point of view, it can generate practical ideas about how to move forward. While senior employees can share contacts and industry insights with their younger colleagues, the youth may have advice to offer with respect to navigating social media or connecting with the millennial marketplace.

Thompson says company leadership should make a conscious effort to encourage intergenerational mentoring. He suggests introducing it through an employee town hall at which the goals and benefits are laid out. Then, on a quarterly basis, hold events that help people connect with one another, whether inside the office or out.