Guest Post by Chip Bell

Homer - Mentoring StartedThe word “mentor” comes from The Odyssey, written by the Greek poet Homer. As Odysseus is preparing to go fight the Trojan War, he realizes he is leaving behind his one and only heir, Telemachus.

Since “Telie” (as he was probably known to his buddies) is in junior high, and since wars tended to drag on for years (the Trojan War lasted ten), Odysseus recognizes that Telie needs to be coached on how to “king” while Daddy is off fighting. He hires a trusted family friend named Mentor to be Telie’s tutor. Mentor is both wise and sensitive – two important ingredients of world-class mentoring, especially Millennials.

The history of the word “mentor” is instructive for several reasons. First, it underscores the legacy nature of mentoring. Like Odysseus, great leaders strive to leave behind a benefaction of added value. Second, Mentor (the old man) combined the wisdom of experience with the sensitivity of a fawn in his attempts to convey kinging skills to young Telemachus.

We all know the challenge of conveying our hard-won wisdom to another without resistance. The successful mentor is able to circumvent resistance.

Mentoring Millennials requires special sensitivity. The best mentors recognize that they are, first and foremost, facilitators and catalysts in a process of discovery and insight.

Millennials require the attention to be on them and not a focus on smart comments, eloquent lectures and clever quips. Remember, they were the apple of their helicopter parents hovering to protect their self-esteem. They are the generation that got a trophy just for participating! Make learning fun, engaging and fresh. Always provide the why behind the what.

Millennials are typically team-oriented. Smart mentors link their competence-creation with ways their Gen Y protégé can share, practice and embellish with others, not as a solo learner.

Because they can be restless, their mentor needs to be patient.

Because they can feel entitled, great mentors need to provide never-ending compassion.

Since they are tech-savvy (even tech-dependent), great mentors need to link learning from the mentoring relationship to relevant online resources.

Because they can be restless and expect instant gratification, great mentors need to help them create realistic expectations.

Just like the first practitioner of their craft, great mentors love learning, not teaching. They treasure sharing rather than showing off, giving rather than boasting. Great mentors are not only devoted fans of their protégés; they are loyal fans of the dream of what their protégés can become with their guidance.

About the Author

Chip BellChip R. Bell is the author of several best-selling books. His newest book (with Marshall Goldsmith) is the award winning, international best-selling Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning Managers as Mentors. You can connect with Chip through his website or via Twitter (@ChipRBell) or Facebook (Facebook/ChipRBell).