- January 10, 2020
- Posted by: Alyson Van Hooser
- Category: Employee Relations, Generations, Leadership
Leaders, buckle up! There’s a new generation in town — Gen Z! I’ve read the research, the books, listened to the podcasts, watched videos, and talked to Gen Z themselves. Today I’m sharing with you 3 perspectives you need to know as you lead Gen Z.
3 Gen Z Perspectives Leaders Need to Know
Let me pump the brakes for a minute. Oftentimes when the topic of “generations” comes up in workforce discussion, people start painting generations with really broad brushes and have no regard for people in the generation who don’t fit the statistical norm.
Let me be very clear, as you lead ALL your employees — not just Gen Z — to my core I believe that the leaders who are going to be the most successful in the decades to come will be those who learn the stories from their people, not just the statistics about them. So, as you read this article, I want you to use these comments as conversation starting points with your people. Gen Z may fit the bill or they may tell you a story about their own experiences that shaped them differently than the majority of their peers. Either way, as a leader you must know your people so you can grow your results. Let’s dig in!
#1 “I’ll be involved in the decision-making process.”
83% of Gen X parents consider their Gen Z kids to be their best friends -GenZ@Work
As I’ve studied research on generations, it’s obvious that each generation — in some way — tries to undo what previous generations did — especially when it comes to parenting. Gen Z parents are largely members of Gen X. Gen X generally did not have friendships with their parents…at least not until later in life. When Gen X started having kids, they chose to parent differently. They wanted to be friends with their kids!
You may be thinking, “Why are you talking about parenting? This is supposed to be a business leadership blog.”
Hear me out.
Parenting is one of the biggest influences that shape a person. The effects of Gen Z parent’s approach to decision-making and supervision are changing how leaders should engage these young professionals at work.
As leaders of the family unit, Gen Z parents gave them a voice in big decisions at home. Gen X asked their kids where to go on vacation, what type of house to buy, or whether or not to homeschool…and the parents listened! Leaders need to understand that the norm for Gen Z is to be included in the decision-making process. Choose to let them share their thoughts and ideas and then seriously consider them. In a world of fast-changing technology, they may have just the fresh idea you need to catapult the company successfully into the future!
Gen Z wants to be involved in the decision-making process at work — even on big things. This isn’t because they have some unfounded sense of entitlement, but because they’ve only ever known a world where, when you’re on the same team, everyone’s opinion matters.
#2 “I will decide what I want and when I want it.”
Attention: You can roll your eyes, but you better roll up your sleeves!
Gen Z has grown up — is growing up — in a world where most everything is customizable. They have only known a world where Amazon can deliver what you want fast, UberEats will bring you food anywhere, everyone can customize all of your social media feeds, and they can choose the classes they want to take at school based on their own interests.
So, for leaders, it’s very important to individualize your approach to leading your people and put policies, procedures, and tools in place that allow Gen Z to customize their job when it comes to what they do and how they do it. That’s no easy task for leaders! However, the work will be worth it!
#3 “If it’s boring, I check out fast.”
The average attention span has dropped to only 8 seconds, according to a Microsoft study.
What does this finding mean in the workplace? When it comes to engaging and training your people on everything from ethics & compliance, to professional development training, to performance discussion…leaders have to perfect their ability to connect fast. And, to my earlier point, what is engaging for one Gen Z may not be engaging for another Gen Z. Leaders must give Gen Z options so they can customize their experience. Leaders must perfect their ability to adapt their communication style from person to person.
Level Up Your Leadership
I realize that all the work on adapting to the Millennial generation for the past couple of decades has exhausted many leaders. For some leaders, Gen Z will be the last generation you will work to lead well. For other leaders, Gen Z is your first experience in working to successfully navigate a changing workforce. Either way, this is the time for leaders to level up! It’s time to take leadership performance to new heights in order to crush goals through the 21st Century workforce. Wishing you massive success!
Do you know a leader who could use this information? Please share!
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