Originally published on The Kigalian
In the past year or so, I have tweeted a number of times to complain on the fact that I don’t get appropriate mentorship from my seniors whether at university or even from outside; trying to understand why.
I would attribute this to mainly two causes. First, I haven’t met a senior who really understands my passion and career goals. Second, seniors tend to not be that open to mentorship principles.
It is also evident that the job market is getting too competitive, where skills and competencies can be considered over a degree and experience. This, to a point where a person who is twenty to thirty years older will tend to look at you as a competitor, hence reduce their interest to open doors and show you the way, give you proper guidance.
On another note, look at most of our Twitter inter-generational conflicts, where some are more open on certain topics and vehement criticism while others prefer to gossip about it in a bar with a close circle of friends and keep a “clean” Twitter timeline.
We need to stop thinking and looking at this as an “us versus them” conversation, but instead strive to close the knowledge gap between generations.
When you’re in your forties and fifties, you realise that you’re not in touch with the present and the future the same way young twenty-something’s are. We are more open-minded and instantly linked to the technology of our future.
Mentorship, in our case, has to be redefined in a way where each individual should be acting in the capacity of a mentor as well as a mentee, and express a genuine need to learn from, and share with, the other. In fact, if you are ten years to retirement, you better get to make allies below you. They young co-worker that you promote is more likely to move past you in the ranks over the next ten years and have a say on how long you can stay in the organisation.
In a win-win situation, the younger colleague would benefit from your experience and you would benefit from his competencies and learn something new. As long as each one is open to pushing themselves outside their comfort zone and try new ways of thinking—open to seeing situations from different angles—and have the will to overcome indifferences in the styles of communication. After all, we all communicate differently.