In this age of social-media networking and redefined routes to management, some may think the very idea of mentoring is an antiquated concept. Well, someone better tell the mentees, since many of today’s younger workers know the importance of a strong mentor.

 

“The fastest way to become a known entity in your place of employment is to find a co-worker as a mentor who will do more than just show you the ropes,” said Joanne Cini, author of “Kingmaker: Be the One Your Company Wants to Keep.”

 

Free your mind

 

So what can older employees do when paired with a younger, still-green employee? Steve McMahan, group president for CompHealth in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said it’s important for mentors to be open to mentees who may not feel comfortable with the 9-to-5 experience just yet, adding that younger workers often can be cynical about corporate life.

 

“They’ve seen parents and other adults lose their jobs, have salaries reduced and workloads increased, and often feel corporations lack loyalty toward their employees,” McMahan said. “They may be more likely to walk out if they don’t see a good reason for what their role is or if they don’t see something linked to a meaningful mission.”

 

Lucy Lloyd, CEO of Australian mentoring firm Mentorloop, wrote that effective mentoring is a long-term endeavor for all involved parties.

 

“Good mentoring doesn’t just happen; it requires conscious effort and commitment on the part of a program coordinator, the mentor and the mentee,” she wrote on RecruitLoop. “In fact, the best mentor programs involve initial goal-setting, frequent communication and a desire on the behalf of the mentee and mentor to learn and connect.”

 

Keep it real

 

A recent story in the Chicago Tribune suggested that mentors who expect excessive admiration from their mentees lower their expectations.

 

“Don’t expect hero worship. While some mentees might seemingly fawn over your every word, that’s not part of the mentor-mentee relationship and probably not an effective learning experience,” wrote Marco Buscaglia. “Some mentors get involved in their company’s programs for nothing more than an ego boost and are disappointed when their mentees don’t treat them with groupie-like reverence.”