Take time to mentor

A few weeks ago, I participated in a luncheon for My Sister's Keeper of Chicago, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and mentoring to young women at inner-city high schools.

A few weeks ago, I participated in a luncheon for My Sister's Keeper of Chicago, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and mentoring to young women at inner-city high schools. The theme for the lunch was “Lifting as we climb.”

After speaking with several of the young women in the program, I thought about the state of mentoring and what it really means to life as we climb. By definition, climbing requires focus, effort, and a sense of direction. To lift as we climb implies that we must take on additional responsibility that adds a level of challenge to our journeys – a commitment that could even mean some sacrifice to our own climb.

Within our industry, there is a lot of talk about the differences in work style and values of baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and now Millennials. But the question I ask myself is, “Who's accountable for bridging the gap to ensure that the next generation of professionals are equipped?”

Arguably, salary expectations, hours, attire, and benefits seem to be points of discrepancy. But outside of the company's current mentoring program or administering an annual review, when was the last time you took time to help guide and nurture a young professional?

Beyond deadlines and assignments, it might take some one-on-one time to illustrate why certain practices serve a new professional well. Teaching young professionals how to dress for a meeting, craft an e-mail without symbols or smiley faces, and to manage difficult situations are 5 minute lessons that last a lifetime.

Let's not forget, Millennials tend to be tech savvy, understand popular culture, and are sensitive to social and political changes around the world. There might even be a few things we can learn from them, allowing us all to be lifted up

Rashada Whitehead, SVP/MD, Flowers Communications Group

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