How to Lead and Inspire a Gen Z Team

Generation Z are those individuals born between the mid-1990s to early 2000s and are rapidly becoming the new workforce. There are some distinct differences in habits, workplace desires, and leadership qualities they seek from their Millennial and Baby Boomer counterparts. Utilize these characteristics to prepare your company to embrace the next wave of workers.

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Characteristics of Gen Z

Gen Z is just now becoming an integral part of the workforce and will continue to stream in for some time as the youngest amongst them is still in elementary school. They are a group who’ve been shaped by significant cultural events to include the Great Recession, increased globalization of business and awareness, and an increase in overall tolerance.

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They have also grown up with a screen in hand, in pocket, and increasingly guiding everyday habits. This generation, while completely comfortable using the technology at their fingertips, tends to prefer less permanence of the Internet opting for social media platforms that claim to not store individual data. They are a generation of immediacy fully accustomed to being able to access what they want, as soon as they think it into existence.

Because they came of age the Great Recession, Gen Z’s carry the characteristics of frugality, an entrepreneurial spirit and value experience in their leaders according to this Huffington Post article.

The normalcy of immediacy for this generation can be harnessed by employers who are savvy enough to give tasks to these natural-born innovators coupled with clear expectations to complete those tasks quickly and to a high standard.

Leadership and Training Expectations

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A study conducted of more than 800 Gen Z’s by Robert Half revealed these employees value honesty and integrity in a manager and crave mentorship. They also want to be shown appreciation and praise as they are used to receiving these inputs through their digital interactions.

This generation expects their leaders to be trustworthy and transparent. They are used to getting things done quickly and can become disenfranchised by managers who are slow to respond.

They lean towards teamwork, collaboration and desire consistent feedback.

Managers can harness the go-getter nature of these employees by giving them ownership of projects, requiring them to be an integral part of the team and have a seat at the proverbial table. Value their input and they’ll rise to the challenge; this is true of any employee.

Other studies show this generation may skip higher education opting instead to begin full-time employment in their late teens and garnering training and experience on the job or in non-traditional ways. Employers offering education and training incentives may be able to snag young, talented individuals eager to learn the ins and outs of the particular business.

Career Style

The same Robert Half study revealed that Gen Zs top job search priorities to be growth opportunities, generous pay, making a positive impact and job security amongst others. They prefer a work environment of in-office, small group collaboration, which is in direct contrast to the Millennial workforce who are increasingly turning to teleworking.

Many of this generation’s employees noted they would take a lower-salary job for a cause they believed in. An article on Forbes identified this generation as desiring a sense of purpose in the work they do. The article said, “…businesses would be well advised to double down on building cultures of giving back which help employees feel a sense of purpose with their work. Connecting their jobs to social impact will remain a priority for Generation Z as it has been for Millennials, and employee volunteer and giving programs will continue to be creative tools for strengthening teams, skills and leadership.”

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Prepare

Leaders who are not yet preparing for this new wave of eager, capable employees need to begin learning about the generation’s nuances, qualities and challenges. The multi-generational workforce may pose challenges for managers, but can also prove to be a winning combination when led well. Employers can begin by using some tools to assess their workforce such as internal audits and personality assessments in order to better understand the current environment.

Embrace the characteristics of Generation Z and welcome them into your office environments, give them a complimentary coffee and a laptop, a job to do, mentoring along the way and watch them grow into the managers and CEOs of tomorrow.

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