You are never old to have a mentor
You are never too old to have a mentor. Especially in the fast-changing workplace it’s important to share experiences and concerns.
Imagine my astonishment when I learned last week that two clients been told they were too old to have a mentor. What sort of craziness is this now?
We live in an age when we need to be continuously learning. Just because we have reached a certain point in our careers or stage our lives, it doesn’t mean that we are too old to have a mentor. In fast-changing workplaces, it’s important to share experiences and concerns. Especially as we get older. There should be no age limit on being a mentee or becoming a mentor to someone else. There is no one who does not need a mentor.
The mentoring relationship is not based on seniority, but experience and knowledge. We look for a mentor when we need help, support, knowledge, or guidance with a specific issue. It can mean bringing together different connections from various parts of our lives both professional and personal.
As we climb the corporate or professional ladder we have usually accumulated a wide range of connections and relationships. But changes in the modern workplace suggest we will increasingly see more circumstances as we get older, in which mentors may be younger – sometimes much younger – than their mentees.
In many geographies there are thousands of open vacancies. Yet many workplaces are not prepared for an ageing workforce and ageism is a serious barrier to building a diverse workplace.
We have to knock on the head stereotypes based on age. I see this frequently on social media snide references to people from a generation that used paper CVs.
Download: Mentoring: The Ultimate Guide.
Mentoring an older employee
1. Let go of stereotypes
Notions around behaviours associated with each generation abound. Boomers are useless at tech and are rigid and inflexible, Gen X are clock watchers motivated by work-life balance. Millennials are not team players and Gen Z lack social skills. Building an open and respectful dialogue and understanding the drivers for each individual is important. Follow this by clarifying the objectives of the mentoring relationship between both of you.
2. Let the relationship develop
Mentoring relationships need time to become established. Allow plenty of time for the discovery phase.
3. Be willing to learn
We all bring different levels of knowledge to any given situation and success will be based on an open exchange of ideas. I have mentors who are older and younger than me. I am learning all the time.
4. Overcome discomfort
There may be some initial discomfort at the start of the relationship but lean into that. It will generally pass as the relationship settles down. If those concerns persist, it probably means the match is not right, rather than the process itself won’t work. Don’t jump to conclusions and make hasty decisions.
Becoming part of a successful mentoring relationship whether as a mentor or a mentee, takes time and energy. Whether as an older employee or more junior, it is worth persevering for an enriching experience at both a personal and professional level.
5. Look externally
You also don’t have to look for a mentor inside your organisation. If your employer rejects your idea of having a mentor based on age, you can also reach out to mentors outside your company. Check out the 3Plus Mentoring Program.
But remember you are never too old to have a mentor. EVER. The person who made that comment needs to take a hard look at their age bias. And deal with it.
If your company needs more support, then contact 3Plus NOW. We also offer a custom-designed, in-house mentoring program, especially for you.