For some, mentoring a millennial entrepreneur presents the daunting exercise of manoeuvring intergenerational differences.
The forces that drive entrepreneurial passion often shift with changing societal values – these forces, along with differences in communication styles, can present challenges when it comes to mentoring.
Whilst the term millennial isn’t perfect, I’m going to use it in reference to people born between 1981 and 2004. This group have a distinctly new and different approach to work and entrepreneurship. The budding entrepreneurs of this generation are thought to be more tech-savvy and more innately confident than entrepreneurs of the past.
Continuing to generalise, millennials prefer a flexible work schedule, are driven by the pursuit of passion in their work, like to feel a sense of purpose and community, and are more likely to infuse altruism into their businesses. They’re also often seen as behaving in an entitled way, expecting instant reward, and being overly engrossed in social media as their foremost tool for communication and interaction.
However you feel about millennials (and the term millennial), they are undoubtedly a force of great influence. At the Branson Centre we believe that building a relationship with a millennial entrepreneur can be a mutually rewarding exchange and we have collated some tips and techniques for mentors to employ when mentoring a millennial entrepreneur.
- Use diverse communication tools. Millennials are more comfortable than most when it comes to using online resources to run their businesses, so be prepared to host your meetings online and to use a variety of non-face-to-face methods of communication.
- Be open to differences. Millennials have a distinctly different attitude to work than their older counterparts. Many prefer non-routine, project-based work, and their tastes and approach to marketing can be quite different. Instead of trying to sway your mentee to do things ‘your’ way, embrace differences and when appropriate discuss the potential benefits of more traditional methods.
- Come prepared with current data and information. Millennials want to know how their work fits in strategically, how it adds to development and creates greater good. Millennials are used to accessing information regularly and rapidly. It’s important to keep the millennial entrepreneur engaged through current affairs and up-to-date with data relevant to their career goals and objectives.
- Welcome creative thinking. Millennial culture is driven by creativity. Embrace creativity while steering your mentee to balance it with critical thinking techniques.
- Set targets and deadlines along with your mentee – then follow up and give regular feedback. This structured method is crucial to all successful mentorship relationships. Millennials, however, are particularly interested in feedback and having open dialogue. They are happy to be a part of the process, have their voice heard and engage in interactive learning.
At the Branson Centre we’ve found that millennials really do look forward to mentorship as an important aspect of their journey to personal development. All time and effort committed by our mentors has been well appreciated and deemed highly useful.
Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean was launched in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 2011 by business magnate Sir Richard Branson. Today, they are the Caribbean’s leading business accelerator, bringing world-class entrepreneurial support to the region. For further details, visit www.bransoncentre.co