Media Millennials, A Modern Mentorship

Sheri Metcalfe, President of Jungle Media and CMDC Youth Ambassador chair.

Sheri Metcalfe, President of Jungle Media and CMDC Youth Ambassador chair.

Across most media agencies in Canada, upwards of 75% of our talent are, in fact, ‘Millennial”, with some “generation z” starting to join the fold. These under 35s have been brought up in a world where their opinion is very valued by parents, teachers and peers alike, as they live in a world of open expression and actively seeking advice with social media amplifying every comment and thought. I believe that this young, smart, dynamic and enthusiastic group is one of the most interesting generations and beholds more willingness to actively seek a mentor. And exposing these open minds in the development of strategic thinking across our clients business and in all aspects of the media landscape, agency and broader industry is critical to the future success of our media agencies.

To illustrate my point, let’s consider the Youth Ambassadors of the CMDC. This group was formed less than 2 years ago and in that time, they have already had a strong impact on the engagement of the Millennials in the media industry. Chairing this group of 8 enthusiastic and digitally savvy members across leading media agencies, often I am wowed by the collaboration of ideas that are steeped in insight and value. For instance, our first task was to clearly define YA’s role as the leading voice for the younger generation in media. There was no shortage of opinions and ideas, which was the perfect backdrop to our ongoing CMDC blog.

And what’s more, this group have designed an inaugural YA event happening on Thursday, September 24th at Steam Whistle Brewery called the “Young Blood Awards”.  The concept of the evening is to celebrate young professionals in our world with less than 5 years experience. In order to really engage the industry and stoke our natural love of competition, the media community were asked to put forth nominees on the CMDC website. Across 5 award categories, there have been over 200 nominations with a sold out event of 300 attendees! YA group have tapped into the need to recognize and celebrate media’s up and coming talent.

Today, it does take great commitment and sometimes patience to guide Millennials. In my experience leading the Jungle Media team and sitting on the CMDC board, as a leaving piece, here are some of my top tips for mentoring millennials in media today:

1. Keep it casual. Give them context and stories of similar instances in the past that may have impacted you and relate it back to the issue at hand. Get ready for their strong opinions and to be challenged! Keep an open mind and don’t be precious of your views! They have a lot of valuable insight to give.

2. Give loads of feedback and expect new kinds of mentoring, like peer-to-peer and even reverse mentoring. They have been brought up on the notion of sharing their views and listening to others. Expect a lot of dialogue, questions, and conscious thought. And every now and then, give some guidelines or put fuel in the tank if they are running out of steam. This generation has a lot going on in their lives and can become distracted if a project gets too exhausting or if the end-game is unclear. Remind them of the upside and they’ll get re-energized pretty quick!

3. Empower them! Give them BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) that could be perceived as a bit risky or over their heads. However, they will impress you and work really hard to get it right. They love a good challenge and love to be recognized for hard work. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t quite as defined and linear as it used to be! Now there are all sorts of learning opportunities – some of them are table-steaks and detail driven and some are big picture and ambitious. Involve them across these tasks and they’ll be valuable partners.

4. Treat them as partners. For sure there is still a hierarchy that must exist out of necessity in any business – ultimately you’re still responsible for P&Ls and client wins and losses. What has become clear to me over the years is that true collaboration brings out the best in this generation.

I’m personally very optimistic about the legacy of the new media generation. As our side of the business becomes bigger, more sophisticated and complex, having these incredibly smart and driven individuals at the helm will prove to be an exciting ride!

Author: Sheri Metcalfe, president of Jungle Media and CMDC Youth Ambassador chair

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