- November 1, 2019
- Posted by: Alyson Van Hooser
- Category: Generations, Leadership Development, Managing Change
Warning: I just read a New York Times article about Gen Z that set me on fire! Consider yourself warned. If you’re a leader who is dreading hiring more young employees, or if you are a leader dying to know if the next generation is going to bring anything good to the table, this message is for you!
3 Reasons Gen Z Make Great Employees
With headlines such as the one published recently from The New York Times: “‘Ok Boomer’ Marks The End Of Friendly Generational Relations, major media outlets are oftentimes incorrectly shaping the way leaders view entire generations in today’s workforce. I am all for freedom of speech, so since I spend my time researching generations and training leaders to successfully navigate today’s multi-generation workforce, I want to share a different perspective with you on why this is not the end of friendly generational relations.
As a millennial, it may be surprising to you that I don’t even necessarily like that term. Why? Because it feels like most of the time when the term is used, someone is talking about my generation in a negative light…in a way that is very different than how I see myself and my peers. The Center for Generational Kinetics latest research proves that “Millennials are breaking into two different generational groups”. That in and of itself allows many millennials like me to take a sigh of relief at the fact that there is proof that all millennials are not entitled, under-performing employees who just want to drink coffee all day. I wonder if that will be the same story for Gen Z. Gen Z is only about 24 years old and younger right now, so time will tell. I want to go ahead and share three reasons everyone can get excited about as Gen Z enters the workplace and takes on leadership roles.
Gen Z Craves Relationship
Parenting always plays a huge role in shaping a person. Gen Z’s parents are Gen X. Gen X grew up in a time when, in most families, both parents worked. Because Gen X was at home often without their parents, this created a more distant relationship between parents and children of that time. Because many in Gen X grew up without a close relationship with their parents, like every other generation, they are making up for it with their own kids. Gen X is focused on building strong relationships with their Gen Z kids.
What does this mean for leaders in the business world? Better performance control.
As Gen Z becomes a bigger part of your workforce, you can rest easy knowing that many of them want to build a relationship with you! They want to learn about you, hear from you, and talk with you often. Why? They have that same close relationship with their parents. This means that as you are controlling performance and results through the people side of your business, you will be met with someone who is eager to hear from you. Where the “‘Ok Boomer…’” New York Times article I mentioned earlier would have you think Gen Z could care less what seasoned leaders have to say, I would disagree. From the Gen Zs I know personally, I see young people putting out a welcome mat for leaders, not a stop sign.
Gen Z is Ready to Get Their Hands Dirty
We’ve all heard and seen the world roll their eyes at Millennials getting participation trophies. Because of the damage those meaningless trophies did for some, Gen X is drilling into Gen Z’s heads that they have to work really hard for their success.
We all see technology take over many of the entry-level jobs that generations before have counted on…especially in customer service. This means that Gen Z understands that their competition is not only their peers but technology, too. All of this is shaping Gen Z to be a very competitive generation and one that is positioned perfectly for monumental innovation.
When you put together the message of hard work that has been consistently fed to Gen Z, their highly competitive nature, and even Gen Z’s experience of the Great Recession, we have a recipe for a really hard-working generation. During my time in the corporate world, I would have given anything for more hard-working, higher-performing employees. The good news is that they are here and they will keep coming as the next ten plus years pass!
Gen Z is Geared for Change
Gen Z has only ever known a world with technology. Some of them have been holding a phone in their hand watching cartoons since they were a toddler! As they’re growing up, they are using it more and more every year in school and at home. With the world at their fingertips for as long as they can remember, they’ve watched everything change at a rapid pace their entire life. Because of this, I believe Gen Z are wired to see endless possibilities for their future and instinctively welcoming change!
Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine? One of the most popular searches people do on YouTube is “How to __________”. Yes, Gen Z has the expectation that possibilities are endless and that products and processes should continually get better, but they also know how to figure out how to make it happen. While they may have been searching for “How to Dougie” on YouTube ten years ago, now they are professionals and are searching for things like “How to be successful at work”.
Gen Z is really good at navigating change. Not only that, but they are willing to take initiative to figure out how to make it happen. If leaders give them opportunities for success, I doubt you’ll find many that won’t take charge and make it happen!
Gen Z Is Not Better Than You
No single generation is better or worse than the other. We are all people experiencing life at different times. All of us are trying to figure out how to make life good at work and at home. In the end, we all want to leave our mark on this world. Choosing to work to understand the people around you, those like you and those completely unlike you, allows everyone to come together to achieve really incredible results.
As a leader, understanding generations gives you a solid starting point to creating loyal, high performing, engaged teams. All of that means better results for your business!
I want to leave you with this…Generational statistics and research are really helpful at creating a starting point for understanding your people. That’s why I gave you just a hint of that today! But, the best resource leaders should tap into are personal stories from their people. Why? Because multi-generation leadership solutions lie within the stories from your people, not the statistics about them. Personal stories help you to deeply understand
- Why your people do what they do.
- How you can get your people to perform better.
As a leader, the best thing you can do to level up your leadership success is to make getting to know your people on a personal level, a top priority. Choose today to schedule a time to meet with your direct reports. Start building a relationship with them. Work for understanding, through listening to their stories. You’ll learn exactly where they’re coming from, who they are, and what they want. That’s where successful leadership in today’s world starts!
Have a leadership team that needs help navigating today’s multi-generation workforce? Let’s talk!
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