6 Things Every Manager Should Know About Gen Z

Generation Z

You’re a manager and you’ve finally got a handle on Millennials. Or maybe you’re one of the Millennials yourself. Look out. Here comes the next generation, Gen Z.
And they’re nothing like Millennials.
Here are six things every manager needs to know about Generation Z.

1. How they want their workplace structured is different.

Only 9% will want to work from home. Unlike Gen Xers and Millennials who have been adamant about working to live, Gen Zers will be more likely to want to come into the office, with a clearer separation of work and home. A mere 17% of them think an open office environment would support them in doing their best work. The overwhelming majority of them want their own private work space, be that an office or a cubicle. They are hard workers with a strong work ethic, and they want their own space in which to perform that work.

2. They are a resilient bunch.

Millennials were raised to think they are special. Meanwhile, Gen Z, raised during the Great Recession, were raised to be resilient. They watched their parents navigate banks failing, retirement accounts tanking and figuring out how to make ends meet. Learning through osmosis and sometimes direct mentoring from their parents, this generation has mastered resilience. That doesn’t mean they enjoy punishing assignments or long hours, but if they are on board with the big picture, they will figure out how to make it work.

3. Entrepreneurship is in their blood.

With IPO heroes like Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel, they’ve come of age in a time when tech start-ups, bloggers and YouTube sensations have become independently wealthy under their noses. That successful start-up mentality has influenced what they think is possible. Capitalize on their entrepreneurship, showing how they can be intrapreneurial if you are part of a large organization or where they can most effectively apply their entrepreneurial efforts in a smaller or mid-sized organization.

4. Optimism about the future.

Whereas their Millennial counterparts tend to be more pessimistic (and entitled, many have said), Gen Z sees the glass as half full, and even more than half full when they work hard and apply themselves. Don’t douse their optimism if you want to get their best work from them.

5. They are accustomed to freedom.

Raised like mini-adults by their Gen X parents coupled with being able to explore the world in a device in the palm of their hand, they are accustomed to freedom unknown to previous generations. While their parents might know where they are in the physical world at all times, they have no idea where in the digital world they are. This is the generation that outsmarted the parental controls on their devices, not because they wanted to visit nefarious websites, but just to see if they could, and to see what lies beyond the fire wall. Your coaching skills as a manager might be put to the limit as you navigate giving them their freedom while supervising their work.

6. Keep it real.

Generation Z is more influenced by real, non-airbrushed personalities on YouTube than they are by celebrity endorsements. From their casual unkempt (men) or simple (women) hair styles to their tastes in music and fashion, this generation more than the few generations that immediately preceded them are all about keeping things real. Let their individuality shine through. Reciprocate and show your authentic self and you will win their trust and respect.

Take these six dynamics into account as you onboard Generation Z into your organization and you will be rewarded with optimistic, resilient, entrepreneurial employees who will soon become the next generation of leaders in your organization.

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    Generation Z

    Given that Gen Z is estimated to be one third of the population by 2020 and will outnumber their Millennial counterparts by more than one million, it is time to take notice of them.

    Generation Zers will be the first to tell you they feel like their smartphone is as indispensable as a body part. Despite this, they are not entirely clueless about how to communicate. A full 78% feel that face-to-face communication is best when expressing feelings.

    Still, there are a number of things you can plan on teaching Gen Z employees as they begin to join your ranks.

    1. When to pick up the phone.

    74% admit communication in person or over the phone doesn’t come naturally to them, according to a recent BridgeWorks study. Consequently, many routine matters will get bogged down in email that takes much more time to process than a quick phone call.

    2. How to focus.

    Raised in a world of six-second Vine videos, Gen Zers have limited attention spans. Passive attention measures a mere eight seconds and active attention 12 minutes, according to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The upshot? They can handle, and will expect, working on multiple projects with competing priorities.

    3. How to ask for help.

    They are a self-reliant bunch. Raised like mini-adults by their Gen X parents, it may not naturally occur to them to ask for help. Even when they are stuck. Model asking for help and show them that it is perfectly okay for them to reach out.

    4. Patience.

    Growing up in a world of Amazon, Zappos and other next-day and same-day delivery services, this generation expects that things will be delivered (at work and elsewhere) nearly instantaneously. And in working order. If they have to wait or if the product or service does not meet their high standards, they will take it as a sign of disrespect. Teaching them that the world of work does not deliver in the same way as Amazon will help them be more tolerant and understanding.

    5. How to make small talk.

    As they note about themselves, communicating in person does not come naturally to them. Courting clients, making friends at work and networking in their professional field will inevitably involve small talk, a staple of in-person communication. Make small talk with them by asking what they did on the weekend, how their commute was and what’s happening on the music scene (or whatever their area of interest) and you will model this important skill.

    Follow these tips and you will get the most out these optimistic, resilient, entrepreneurial young adults.

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