Just as businesses have built an understanding around millennial workers' wants and needs, along comes Generation Z.
Although the majority of Gen Zers aren't yet in their prime employment years, millions are on the cusp of entering the workforce. The reality of how different they are from their predecessors will surprise even managerial veterans.
Gen Z has high hopes for career stability. They watched the world plummet into a recession more than a decade ago, and research by brand strategy agency iid shows that those memories have mentally matured and tempered them. Monster indicates that more than three-quarters of Gen Zers are ready to own their career paths and advance themselves accordingly – and almost half want to be business owners.
They're also resourceful: Fifty-two percent of Gen Zers jump to YouTube or similar platforms to conduct research, and they prefer to do things on their own before asking for help. They don’t expect collaboration; they're too eager to get the job done to wait.
For supervisors accustomed to millennial team members, Gen Zers might seem peculiar. They're not asking for the same directives as millennials, and they seem too stubborn and focused to just "settle in."
Concerned that you might not be ready to manage this up-and-coming workforce with all its novel characteristics and habits? Some of the most effective parenting strategies for Gen Z kids have parallels in workplace leadership. This rings especially true in smaller businesses, where workplace dynamics tend to mirror the family environment.
Here are four parenting-based strategies Gen Z business leaders can use to make managing these employees a little easier:
1. Accept that you'll need a new lens.
Things change substantially from generation to generation (and from person to person), and each new group, including Gen Z, should be considered on its own merits.
It all starts with understanding. If you're raising Gen Zers, you probably have an idea of how they approach the world. But if you aren't a parent of a Gen Z child, spark conversations with your Gen Z employees to figure out what makes them tick. Make an effort to learn about their interests, habits and ideas. This insight will help you identify trends over time, and these trends will lead to more effective management practices.
2. Prepare to meet Gen Zers where they are.
Gen Z employees won't run to you when they need help. This requires a different kind of leadership model. The best way to coach Gen Z is to embrace their confidence and initiative without stunting it. Freedom and personal discovery are critical here.
Find a way to get in their highly curated streams and win them over by genuinely being where they are. Remember that even parents of Gen Zers have to figure out how to become "influencers" in their lives. You're also competing for their attention as a business leader, so make sure your communication is personalized.
Offer links to professional development courses, informative videos, and other materials they can use to advance themselves professionally and personally. If you want to break into their information streams, you need to give them engaging, work-related content that's highly personalized to them.
3. Adopt a policy of daily check-ins.
Gen Z needs constant coaching. After all, they bring the CEO mindset they've had since childhood into the professional world.
Here, it's all about taking that confidence, encouraging it and then refining it. The perfect place to start is with daily check-ins. During these conversations, ask Gen Z workers what they're doing and give constructive feedback, shooting for the 10 percent conversation. This sounds a little like: "Ninety percent of what you're working on sounds great. Here's the 10 percent I'd like you to improve upon."
As these workers become more comfortable in their roles, you can decrease the frequency of your check-ins.
4. Customize and individualize their positions whenever you can.
Leverage your daily check-ins to find the projects or teams your Gen Z workers would be well-suited to join. Encourage them to put a creative spin on each role, as they appreciate personalization.
Gen Zers might be tough nuts to crack, but their positive qualities – honesty, straightforwardness, and earnestness – shine through. Like any other employee, business leaders coaching Gen Zers must guide them toward their greatest potential. To do this, they have to realize that Gen Z should be approached in ways different from their predecessors.
By taking deliberate steps to find this generation's motivations, drives, and dreams and adjusting leadership accordingly, business leaders can create an atmosphere of mutual understanding, empathy and growth.