As Generation Y comes into its own in the workplace, many credit union and bank professionals are faced with the challenge of managing these young professionals. When these tattooed young men and women, so used to instant information gratification and coddling from a generation of hipster helicopter parents hit your employee entrance, will you know how to handle them? Mr Miyagi - 1

How do you manage these hyper-connected, social media addicted employees? In such a way that not only encourages performance but also inspires them to grow and lead? If you’ve struggled with such a scenario, you’re dealing with the “manager vs. mentor” debate.

The days of the crusty cigar-chomping manager are gone. In order to make the most of their workforces, bank and credit union managers must also learn to become effective mentors. A mentor is a more experienced individual that takes the time to develop a personal developmental relationship with his or her less experienced subordinates. In our Gen X and Baby Boomer pop culture mindset, we think of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid or Captain Picard with Commander Riker in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Both men managed their young protégés and worked them hard, yet also took time to guide, develop and nurture them.  

What does it take to develop a mentorship relationship with staff at your bank or credit union? A great first step is buy-in from senior management. These individuals have to not only see the value of a mentorship mentality but also actively encourage it in the workplace. Other important elements include:

  • Mentors must make time to meet regularly with their charges. These do not have to be formal across-the-desk meetings at financial institution. In fact, it may be better if you hold them offsite, at a coffee shop or restaurant. Take time to visit with your staff, get a feel for where they are, the challenges they face and what motivates them. Knowledge like this will enhance your relationship.
  • Expect to learn as much from them as they do from you. While mentorship is designed with the betterment of the younger person in mind, both parties should expect to learn from the exchange. No manager, no matter how well seasoned, knows everything about a particular subject. Both must enter the mentor relationship with open minds and a willingness to learn.
  • Enjoy the mentorship experience. If you go into it dreading yet another time drain on your resources, you’re doing both yourself and your charge a disservice. As you expect a lot out of them, so they also expect a lot out of you. Remember to enjoy the experience. Be proud of your employee’s achievements and celebrate them together.

Mentoring, when done correctly, is the next rung up the ladder from simple management. The relationship between a mentor and his or her staff can develop into valuable, lifelong experience. This benefits not only the employee but also the greater credit union or bank.