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FEATURE ARTICLE

Mentoring: Bridging a generation gap

How to mentor the leaders of tomorrow


Young professionals are ambitious, talented and demanding – how can the construction industry guide tomorrow’s leaders?PwC’s recent report titled ‘Millenials at work – Reshaping the workplace’ features a remarkable statistic that 56% of survey respondents felt that they could rise to the top with their current employer. Many young professionals are intensely ambitious and are looking for rapid career progression and, while this mentality is valuable it is vital that firms enable and guide this passion carefully.

As a young professional in the middle of ‘Generation Y’, I am intrigued by the differing approaches of firms to develop their next generation. As Helen Gough, Head of JLL’s Buildings & Construction team noted in last month’s Building blog, Generation Y “wants to be coached, not managed”. The new era of young professionals are incredibly progressive and really value mentorship as part of their development.

What can Gen Y offer senior colleagues?
The PwC report also suggests that mentorship programmes can be effective at relieving tensions between generations. It is suggested that ‘reverse mentoring’ which involves younger professionals coaching senior colleagues on social media or even the latest workplace trends is a good way to increase mutual respect and understanding between groups. 

Why should senior specialists mentor young professionals?
Senior colleagues provide experience on topics that a younger professional may not have encountered before. While new professionals can offer a fresh perspective, we value and depend on the expertise and guidance of senior colleagues. 

Mentorship is a dynamic process that can assist with professional and personal development while providing a structure to engage with young colleagues. Gen Y wants its perspectives to be heard. Mentoring, whether formal or informal, or as some sectors describe as situational and group mentoring, provides an attractive proposition for both retaining young professionals and attracting new talent.  

Mentorship programmes
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) in the UK has a highly successful mentorship programme which has doubled its intake of mentors and mentees since last year.  The programme gives young professionals from across the real estate industry the opportunity to benefit from the advice and guidance of senior industry leads. By working with individuals across a wide spectrum of businesses in the real estate sector, young professionals are able to broaden their horizons and get a real feel for what the industry can offer. I have been fortunate enough to have been paired with a senior partner at a prominent developer which delivers iconic and sustainable developments and so far it’s been an enriching experience

Ashley Perry is a Project Manager in JLL’s Project Management team. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute’s UK Young Leaders Committee and also the Urban Land Institute’s European Young Leaders Committee.