Two recent events have reminded me of the importance of engaging future generations of leaders and imparting what wisdom and skills we can to help equip them for success. And we all know this is particularly important in Iowa, where we have seen some challenges in retaining young professionals.
Last month, I met with some of the most dedicated people in the Des Moines metro area at the Business Record’s annual Forty Under 40 event. I was awed by the passion and success of these individuals as well as by the positive influence they are exerting on the organizations fortunate enough to be associated with them.
And just a couple weeks ago, I hosted a luncheon for all of the interns working within Iowa Health System. I try to do this with each new class of interns for two reasons:
- First, it’s great to get them more connected to the organization by giving them an opportunity to meet with each other and senior management.
- The other reason is more selfish. I truly enjoy the energy, fresh perspectives and ideas they bring. There’s nothing quite like meeting with a group that’s ready to take on the world.
- Determine how you will make them feel like part of their teams
- Emphasize the importance of their work
- Prepare to give tasks that differ from time to time and at least one they can own and complete from beginning to end
- Show how they are positively affecting the company
If you think you can meet these needs, then it’s time to start recruiting. While it’s worth considering candidates who have the initiative to contact you directly about internship opportunities, most likely you are going to want to select from a pool of applicants. A great way to do this is to work with the career development offices at area colleges and universities.
Whether you are ready for an intern program, another rewarding, more personal job you can take on is to become a mentor. Mentoring gives you the extraordinary opportunity to facilitate a protégé’s personal and professional growth by sharing knowledge you learned through years of experience.
The American College of Health Care Executives outlines the various ways you can benefit from mentoring:
- Strengthen your own coaching and leadership skills by working with individuals from different backgrounds and personality types
- Develop and retain talent in your organization or community
- Demonstrate in a real way how cultural expectations affect decisions
- Create a legacy that has a lasting impact, providing you with the satisfaction of helping to develop future talent
Becoming a mentor is a big decision and one that should not to be taken lightly. Much like an internship, it requires a considerable amount of planning, listening and consultation.
Certainly there are other ways to nurture the professional pipeline for your organization and our region. Offer to speak to young professional organizations. Teach a course at a local institution. Work with your own HR department or association membership chair to find out how you can engage and retain the best young talent. But whatever you do, do it for yourself as well. Absorb the energy, fresh perspectives, skill and effort that young professionals have to share in return.