GANERATION GAP: MENTORS AND protégés
As the baby boom generation nears retirement, many Boomers are mentoring their future work replacements-Generation Xers. Some Boomers have found the process difficult. William Slater, a 47-year-old computer engineer who participates in his company’s formal mentoring program, has had negative experiences with three protégés. He recalls that one tried, unsuccessfully, to take his job, while another repeatedly spoke badly about him to his boss. “I have an ax to grind with Generation X. They’re stabbing aging Baby Boomers in the back,” says Slater.
It is not only Baby Boomers who have had bad experiences. Joel Bershok, a 24-year-old, was optimistic about the prospects of having a mentor. However, his mentor dissolved the relationship after only 3 weeks. Says Bershok: “He just wanted it for his resume.” To Bershok, one of the major problems with a mentoring relationship is a lack of trust. With an uncertain economy and companies making frequent layoff announcements, Boomers are wary of teaching their younger counterparts too much for fear that those counterparts, who usually make less––and so cost the company less than Boomers––may replace them.
The fear may be justified. For example, Janet Wheeler, a 49-year-old broker, saw her job replaced by two younger workers after her company let her go, Wheeler thinks that other Boomers are beginning to notice the risks of mentoring and are responding by not teaching their protégés as much that they could. “You see young people being brought along just enough to get the job done, but not so much that they’ll take your job,” she states.
Given that some studies lave demonstrated the beneficial effects of mentoring on employee outcomes such as performance, job satisfaction, and employee retention, many analysts are concerned that Baby Boomers are failing to see mentoring as a responsibility. According to a study by Menttium Corporation, a firm that aids companies in...