Whenever people question the value mature professionals bring to a work force, it’s hard to imagine they have ever worked in a multigenerational work environment before. Any boomer professional knows that what they contribute to a job goes far beyond their experience and proven skills. The younger generations have the talent to succeed, but many of them still need guidance just as the boomers did at their age. Boomer professionals have a sort of responsibility to encourage the younger generations of talent and help nurture that talent into something of great value. If you are in a managerial role, you must always be on the lookout for such talent. Those younger, burgeoning professionals who have the potential to reach great heights in their field. But how best to encourage them? Here are a few tips for helping young talent grow within the workplace.
Advise but don’t instruct.
When mentoring or helping a younger professional realize their full potential, there’s a fine line you have to walk. A mentor’s role is always to provide advise and guidance but never to actually guide. When you find someone who demonstrates the kind of talent that can really be of value to an industry, it can be hard to suppress the urge to direct them down the path that you think will be the most successful. However, it’s important to fight that urge because it is only your job to help them find the paths to go down and leave the final choices up to them. This is their journey for better or worse and you must respect that. They may ask you to tell them what to do, but that’s not what will help them in the end. Being able to make their own decisions, learn from their mistakes and know what advise to follow and which to ignore are all traits that will make them a better professional going forward.
Don’t let them go too easy on themselves.
One of the most effective ways of helping to nurture talent is by identifying it within a person and allow them to see it for themselves. Usually, talented individuals recognize their talents to a degree, but sometimes they need someone with experience in the professional world to say it plain and simple, and let them know what their potential is worth.
It’s hard to know what each individual will do with that information once it’s given to them. It’s hard not to get a confidence boost when you are recognized in such a way and confidence is an important thing to have — but there are risks. Some may begin to feel as though their work and skills should be held to different standards. Their talent has been made clear and therefore it is just a matter of time before they reach a certain level of success. They think they don’t need to put in the same amount of time and effort, or that their mistakes aren’t as important as others. Of course, anyone who has reached a certain level of success knows the opposite is in fact true. Don’t allow them to make those cheap excuses and be sure they are holding themselves to a level of work that reflects their potential.
Listen to what they want.
Saving the most important bit for last, the only thing that matters above all else is what they want. Regardless of their talents, regardless of their potential, regardless of the heights they could reach, this is their career and what they want from it is paramount to any other subject. They could have very different ideas for their career than what is suggested by their talents. If you’re going to help them and provide any sort of guidance, you have to listen to them and encourage them to be open and truthful. No one wants to force someone down a path they have no interest in being on. They might very well want to reach those high levels of success and be a big player in the industry, but how they get there is up to them. Communication is always key to healthy work relationships and in is just as true in this case.
Your experience is of great value and to share to with others so they might better themselves is a noble act. Being a mentor is a big responsibility but respect above all else will ensure you given them the guidance they need.