Traditional one-on-one mentoring is on its way out. Many companies are cultivating “modern mentoring” within the organization in an effort to reach millennials. Modern mentoring refers to the practice of collaborative learning groups, virtual relationships, and peer-to-peer connections, where people learn from one another about skills, interests, and development needs. According to Randy Emelo, president and CEO of River Software, millennials helped create the process.
“Having grown up using social networks and mobile devices to crowdsource information and wisdom,” states Emelo, “millennials are most likely to seek a broad array of learning relationships to support them at work.” This younger generation thrives in group learning environments and does not see the sole one-on-one learning of traditional mentoring as a viable option. They access everyone in their network for their growth potential and cannot see how one individual could possibly provide the complete knowledge base for them to meet their full capability.
Because of this wish for continuous learning from varied sources, modern mentoring can have a profound impact on millennials, as well as other employees. Emelo states that the idea is based on the idea that everyone not only has something to learn, but something to teach as well. With modern mentoring, there is “an open flow of knowledge among participants,” he says.
Emelo’s company, River, an award-winning SaaS social learning platform is a that utilizes the idea of modern mentoring to support relationships through peer learning and coaching. Formerly known as Triple Creek Software, the company changed its name to River, because “Rivers provide sustenance to communities and are harnessed to produce power. We want River social learning software to do the same for your organization: bring you life and power,” according to the website. River uses a company’s organizational competencies to intelligently recommend, connect, and support mentoring relationships for your employees.
Using tools such as River to improve modern mentoring possibilities allows HR professionals the ability to engage on-the-job training and social learning without removing employees from the job. “Having people learn while doing their jobs helps them put new insights and understandings into the context of their daily work, which can lead them to be even more effective and efficient in their jobs,” says Emelo.
Emelo names four key points for implementing a successful modern mentoring culture.
The work environment must be open with equal access among employees. If the organization is split among locations, consider virtual access for the entire work population.
Diversity allows for different perspectives within an organization, which fosters new ideas and approaches. Mentoring across function, generations, and locations will be valuable to learning.
Flexibility in the company mentoring program ensures that individuals make the most of it and are able to shift easily between the roles of learner and advisor.
Finally, Emelo recommends maintaining a personal and self-directed program. “Adults want to drive their own learning. Give them a technology to use or a mechanism where they can reach out to anyone at any time for any learning need.”
Modern mentoring and River Software can encourage millennial employees in their quest to learn and grow within their role while furthering the success of the company.