In many organizations, there is a generational gap that can directly impact business results and hinder professional relationships. Typically, these generational gaps lay between Gen X/Y and Millennials, both of whom bring unique skillets and characteristics to the table. In our blog post “3 Innovative Ways to Coach Successful Millennial Leaders,” we discuss how modern leaders can view Millennial characteristics like the perceived lack of commitment or focus as positive attributes.

However, it takes more than knowing Millennial’s professional habits to help create strong leaders and an optimized business. Overcoming the generational gap in the modern workplace is attained when each generation has the means to learn from the other, cultivating a collaborative team of future-forward professionals.

By understanding the habits, views, and needs of different generations, we can gain new insights and change our perspectives to bridge the gap between generational workers.

At East Tenth Group, we strongly believe in the power of coaching and developing Millennials to empower future leaders and the business as a whole. So much so, that we’ve created a complimentary guide on Coaching & Developing Others.

A major facet of a successful business is its ability to stay relevant and sustainable in the face of societal changes. Current organizational leaders are responsible for deciding how a business will move forward and creating future leaders for successful succession planning.

Two-way mentoring between Millennials and Gen X/Y can help yield these results, as aligning the strengths of current leaders with the creative insights of future leaders shapes a well-rounded vision of where a business is headed.

The Power of Two-Way Mentoring

When done right, mentoring is a powerful tool for cultivating an employee network that is connected, motivated, and engaged with each other, as well as the company mission. Ideally, mentoring holds benefits for not only the person being mentored, but the senior-level team member sharing their expertise and insights.

Mutually beneficial mentoring endeavors help build the confidence of the mentor by demonstrating that their knowledge and experience can help them expand the professional capabilities of their mentee, while helping them shape the future of the organization. For the mentee, two-way mentoring means that they can share their insights as to how they view the business and ideas on how to move forward more effectively and efficiently.

However, to truly mend generational gaps with two-way mentoring, there are certain aspects of the mentorship relationship that should be present for a healthy partnership, including:

1. Lay the Groundwork for Effective Feedback Sharing

When it comes to bridging the gap between generational workers, there should be a strong groundwork that emphasizes varying communicative preferences and feedback sharing opportunities.

Millennials are a generation used to regular feedback and praise for a job well done. On the other end of the spectrum, people from Gen X/Y are extremely self-reliant, often referred to as the most independent generation in the modern workplace. These preferences are on opposing ends of the professional spectrum, with many professionals struggling to identify the most effective method of mentoring and communication with members of another generation.

These different competencies and workplace expectations can lead to misunderstanding and isolation between groups. Mending these differences requires a clarification of preferences at the start of any new professional relationship, including during mentoring endeavors. If your organization has a strong mission and set of core values, identifying a common goal of portraying these values throughout a team or mentoring relationship can create a healthy groundwork for understanding each other.

Many mentorship relationships require communicating constructive feedback that will help an individual grow professional and better understand how they can When providing feedback, play to the person’s strengths and share your thoughts in the way that is most accessible to them. For example, both Millennials and people from Gen X/Y thrive with consistent feedback and praise, while Veterans typically expect feedback only when professional goals are met.

2. Overcome Generational Differences with Mutual Respect

For two-way mentoring to be successful, the responsibility of mentoring should be on both parties involved. Through rich two-way conversations that include insights from both the mentor and mentee, a C-Suite mentor can nurture the future of the organization by implementing initiatives that align them with technological advances and a youthful perspective.=

When both parties feel as though they’re gaining from a mentorship relationship, their understanding of one another can flourish and transfer into their other professional relationships as well. For the Millennial participating in a mentoring session with a C-Suite mentor, they are gaining a bird’s-eye view into the operations of the company, while the mentor can listen to the suggestions of the mentee on how they can streamline processes to align with the future vision of the company.

Many mentors enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they’ve helped someone move forward professionally while they develop their understanding of younger generations. Because of this increased awareness of the professional tendencies of other generations, C-Suite leaders can begin to view their organization and practices through a fresh set of eyes while improving their own communication and management skills.

3. Plan for a Better Future Together

As discussed above, two-way mentorship requires the full participation of both parties to truly bridge the gap between generational workers. The spider-web effect of a successful two-way mentorship can help cultivate a better future for an entire organization through knowledge and understanding of how generations can best work together.

The gap between generations in business is one of misunderstanding and a lack of information as to the social and professional experiences of generations. When common big-picture goals for an organization are a clear part of company culture, varying generations can come together to actively reach for these goals.

Best-in-class C-Suite executives can create future-forward strategies to bridge generational gaps by discussing generational differences, assessing company strategies as a unit, and cultivating communication processes that will benefit both the current and future leadership team.

Often, two-way mentoring relationships can provide mutual benefits for both the mentor and the mentee, providing an expansion in confidence, knowledge, and experience for all. When we take the time to practice empathy and cultivate understanding between generations, the journey forward as an organization can begin to look more streamlined and achievable overall.

Our team at East Tenth Group is dedicated to providing quality leadership development, people strategy, and executive coaching services tailored to your unique needs. Take action now and subscribe to our newsletter for the latest actionable insights from East Tenth Group, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.