Younger employees value mentoring, learning and development

Younger employees, including Millennials, place a high value on career development. They want to be in jobs where they can learn new skills that will benefit them professionally. They crave structure, positive feedback and coaching. In fact, studies show that Millennials value a sense of purpose and professional development over other perks of the job. Successful organizations will develop programs to help managers become better coaches and even provide mentors for younger employees.

Not all managers are natural coaches

Most managers were promoted into management because they were very competent in their field or prior position. That does not mean that they know how to be good managers, much less how to coach subordinates for improved performance. Others think coaching is something that should only be done when an employee’s performance is not up to par. Many employees—especially younger employees and new hires—would benefit from regular coaching from their managers. Organizations should establish formal processes for training managers to be effective coaches. This might involve having gifted coaches within the organization mentor newer managers, or the organization might prefer to send managers out to formal training programs to develop their coaching skills. Coaching provides employees with much more feedback than annual performance reviews could ever deliver. Managers are able to use coaching to gently course correct when employees are having performance issues. Receiving coaching from management also gives workers the chance to pursue continuous learning and provides the positive reinforcement that helps younger employees thrive in the workplace. According to Gallup, consistent feedback from a manager increases employee engagement and performance. Millennials have a particularly strong need for coaching. A survey by Harvard Business Review revealed that Millennials want feedback 50% more often than other employees and managers are their preferred resource for professional development.

5 tips for developing a mentoring program

Direct managers aren’t the only people in an organization that can help employees develop professionally. Peers and other non-direct managers can also serve as valuable mentors. At least 25% of U.S. companies now have peer mentoring programs, and that trend has grown significantly over the past decade, according to a white paper from UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. The white paper notes distinctions between coaching and mentoring. While both are forms of professional development used to teach skills, coaching is generally directed at improving employee performance and has a shorter, more specific timeframe. Mentoring relationships last longer, often six months to one year, and aim to help employees better define and develop their career paths, learn to navigate the organization, and build confidence. To establish a mentoring program, UNC recommends following these steps:

  1. Build a foundation. Determine the needs for your mentor program, as well as its goals. Decide what the best structure would be for your organization.

  2. Prepare to roll out. Obtain senior management buy-in. Communicate the program to employees.

  3. Launch your program. Train your team of mentors. Remember that most people are not natural mentors, just as they aren’t natural coaches. Training is essential. Begin matching employees with mentors.

  4. Build relationships and monitor progress. During this stage, your mentors and mentees are developing their relationship. HR can and should check in with both parties from time to time to see how things are going, and whether goals and milestones are being reached.

  5. Measure effectiveness. After one year, the first round of mentoring will end. Then it’s time for HR to evaluate the effectiveness of the mentor program and make necessary tweaks. Try to collect quantitative (how many goals met, costs) and qualitative (surveys or interviews) information to study.

Track employee development with talent management solutions

Organizations want to measure performance and productivity, and employees want to be given opportunities to learn and expand their skills. Human resources managers can rely on technology to help both parties meet their goals. Asure Software’s Human Capital Management Solutions can help managers set goals for employees, measure performance, while it helps the organization track each employee’s training completions, grades, tuition reimbursements, certifications, and more.

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