While some dismiss generational cohorts as being too generalized, the reality is, at least if you speak to any HR rep, there are certain personality traits that accompany these various groups. Moreover, these personality traits, which can show up in everything from the company that an employee chooses to join to their preferences for managerial styles, can help guide business owners in how to handle and get the most from their staff.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at Generation Z. This group of were typically born in 1998 to about 2012. In general, they are the offspring of Generation X, although a few may call some older Millennials mom and dad. They are also the first generation to grow up with access to the internet and “portable digital technology” (also known as phones and iPads to us non-nerds!) Generation Z is defined by their love for self-directed learning, their ability to multi-task, their independence, and their entrepreneurial spirit in the workplace. In terms of values, they seek out firms with diversity and those that lead with the opportunity to be upwardly-mobile and establish a secure, high-earning career. This generation is also, rather refreshingly, acutely aware of how much they stand to learn from older generations; in a study by Tallo, a career advisory platform for young professionals, Generation Z professionals expressed a desire to learn from their managers, particularly in areas of leadership skills and so-called “soft skills,” including critical thinking, analytics, problem-solving, and even communication skills.
Read on below to learn how you, as a business leader, can capitalize on this thirst for knowledge and help cultivate the next generation of leaders in your business.
Generation Z is not huge fans of failure, so do your best to set them up for success. One business mentor suggests that rather than giving them a big project upfront, spend time teaching them core tasks and then progressing them to working independently on straightforward assignments and eventually taking on more complex projects that require multiple skill sets. However, he warns that you’ll want to toe the line between nurturing and micro-managing and suggests that you let them puzzle out a problem and perhaps even let them fail if it means they will learn a valuable lesson that will set them up for future success.
Be patient and show some grace! For new employees, it’s rarely a lack of trying that is causing them to fail and rather a lack of knowledge or life experience that is causing their efforts to fall flat. Keep your expectations in check and you’ll save a lot of disappointment for both parties!
Consider their background
Training an employee who has transferred to your company can be tricky because you must get them up to speed with all of the things that you do as a business. For Generation Z, many of whom are embarking on their first foray into corporate America, you must teach them how to be employees! By this, we mean that you don’t always have a solid professional foundation to work from and instead have to build one from scratch – on top of having to teach all the other business-specific information! Tailor your training accordingly so that it is broader than it may be for a transferring employee and may be taught at a slightly slower pace so as to not prove overwhelming.
See their strengths
Much like their Millennial counterparts, Generation Z is the folks who will excel when it comes to all things digital. This is the medium that they are most comfortable with and one that they are used to interfacing with the most. Tap into their knowledge and expertise whenever you are piloting something new on the technology front as you will find that they can serve as a treasure trove for useful information that could seriously up your game (or at the very least, help troubleshoot with you if you experience a bumpy road!)
Tap into their love for learning
One of the defining characteristics of this generation is that they have a genuine love for learning, particularly when it can be self-directed. If you notice a Generation Z worker has a weak spot, don’t be afraid to let them know you see it but, more importantly, help them to identify training and other resources to help them shore up those skills independently.
Pair them wisely
Generation Z has great respect for their elders and has a fundamental appreciation for what they can learn from folks who have already been in the business. When you’re determining who to pair them with, where possible, select a manager that can also take on somewhat of a mentorship role, who won’t mind taking the time to guide them and cultivate their careers. You will also want a manager who is patient and who can give constructive feedback far more regularly than other generations may require, but who isn’t afraid to tell it straight as this generation thrives on both good and bad critiques.
Consider their prospects
When someone is so new to corporate America, it’s hard to envision them ever heading up a project, let alone another department. However, you’d be surprised how quickly you can identify the movers and shakers from the rest of the pack. These folks are excited for their projects and take ownership where possible, they’re always looking to do it bigger or better, and they accept feedback to ensure the best outcome. Sure, they’re a little green, but now is the time to identify this talent and start grooming them for top positions within your company because they’ll be ready for it before you know it!
Have you hired a lot of Generation Z workers in your business? What are you doing to help them assimilate into the business world?