Generation Z, born roughly between 1997 and 2012, is the first generation to have grown up entirely in a digital world, with technology deeply embedded in their everyday lives. This digital immersion has shaped their behavior, preferences, and expectations.
To effectively manage Generation Z in the workplace, it is crucial not only to capitalize on that love and appreciation for technology but to set clear expectations, provide development opportunities, and be transparent and authentic. Continue reading to learn more on how to manage Generation Z.
Did You Know?
According to WeForum, Generation Z (also known as Gen Z or Zoomers) will account for 25% of the workforce by 2025.
1. Focus on Technology
In a survey conducted by Dell Technologies, 40% of Gen Z respondents said that digital skills are essential in their future careers, while 36% are planning to upgrade their tech skills. Thus, if you want to effectively manage them, be sure to provide your Gen Z employees with training on new technologies. This will help them to stay ahead of the curve and to be more productive in their work.
These training initiatives can cover various aspects, such as software applications, digital tools, data analysis, coding, and cybersecurity. Additionally, they can be delivered through workshops, online courses, mentorship programs, or partnerships with educational institutions.
It is important to create a supportive learning environment that encourages active participation, hands-on practice, and ongoing knowledge sharing. By investing in their technological development, organizations not only enable Gen Z employees to excel in their current roles but position them for future success and career growth.
2. Establish Clear Expectations & Goals
Gen Z has grown up in an era where they have been accustomed to receiving recognition for their participation and effort, rather than solely focusing on the end results. Therefore, when managing Gen Z employees, it is crucial to establish clear expectations and goals for them, and equally important to hold them accountable for meeting those expectations.
Setting clear expectations involves clearly communicating what is expected from Gen Z employees in terms of performance, quality of work, deadlines, and behavior. It is essential to articulate these expectations in a detailed and transparent manner, ensuring that there is no ambiguity. This clarity helps Gen Z employees understand what they need to accomplish and what success looks like in their roles.
In addition to setting clear expectations, it is equally important to establish specific, achievable, and timebound (SMART) goals for them. It gives them a clear sense of direction and purpose. By outlining these goals, both short-term and long-term, managers can help Gen Z employees focus their efforts and work toward tangible outcomes.
Learn more about creating SMART goals.
Part of effective employee management is balancing appreciation and recognition for Zoomers’ efforts while also making sure they understand the importance of achieving results. Accountability can be fostered by regular check-ins, performance reviews, and feedback sessions. It is essential to provide guidance and support while also holding them responsible for meeting the established expectations and goals.
3. Provide Growth & Development Opportunities
Having opportunities for growth and development is one of Generation Z’s driving forces when deciding whether to stay in or leave a job. According to Workplace Intelligence, 74% of millennial and Gen Z employees are likely to quit if there are no growth opportunities in the organization. They are attracted to organizations that provide:
- Workshops, seminars, and other learning opportunities
- Structured career development plans, regular performance evaluations, and advancement opportunities
- Mentorship programs pairing them with senior employees for guidance and support
Check out our training and development guide for more information.
4. Be Transparent & Honest
Generation Z places a high value on transparency and authenticity. To effectively manage this generation, it is crucial to prioritize transparency and shift your management and communication style away from a “need-to-know” policy. Here are some steps on how you can do that:
- Share information openly: Make it a practice to share relevant information openly with your Gen Z employees. That means providing regular updates on changes, challenges, and successes within the organization. When discussing issues or decisions, share the reasoning behind them. Gen Z appreciates honesty and will respect leaders who communicate openly and authentically.
- Encourage questions and feedback: Create a safe environment where Gen Z employees feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback. Actively encourage their participation in discussions, meetings, and brainstorming sessions. Welcome their ideas, opinions, and perspectives. When they feel heard and valued, trust and connection are strengthened.
- Be receptive to concerns and address them promptly: When Gen Z employees raise concerns or express dissatisfaction, listen attentively and take their feedback seriously. Address their concerns promptly and provide updates on the actions taken. Being responsive and proactive in resolving issues helps build trust and demonstrates your commitment to transparency.
- Involve Gen Z in decision-making: Whenever possible, involve Gen Z employees in decision-making processes. Seek their input, ideas, and suggestions. This not only empowers them but shows that their opinions matter. When they feel included in the decision-making process, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to the outcomes.
Transparency, communication, and honesty are three of the people management skills managers should develop. Here are the rest of the 15 Top People Management Skills.
What Gen Z Struggles With
ResumeBuilder.com surveyed more than 1,000 managers earlier this year, and found that one out of eight managers fired a Gen Z employee within a week of being hired. The same survey also revealed that 74% of managers find that this generation is the most challenging to work with. Some of the reasons they find Gen Z difficult to work with include a lack of communication/interpersonal skills, motivation, and effort. The managers also mentioned that this generation is easily offended.
While it’s easy to criticize Gen Z, it’s not fair to just place all the blame on them. As they embark on their careers, Generation Z is confronted with a myriad challenges. They enter the workforce amid escalating inflation, burdensome student loan debt, a housing crisis, and the looming threat of an impending recession.
Moreover, this generation has experienced catastrophic events, such as COVID-19, wars, social instability, and a rise in gun violence. Collectively, these circumstances have presented Gen Z with a daunting set of circumstances that profoundly shape their approach to work.
Managing Millennials vs Managing Gen Z
While both Zoomers and millennials (generally born between 1981 and 1996) have grown up in the digital age and share some similarities, they have distinct characteristics and preferences that require different management approaches.
Here are some of the differences:
Prefer emails and phone calls
Prefer instant messaging and texting
Value work-life balance and flexibility
Seek flexibility and work-life integration
Digital natives, comfortable with technology
Even more technologically fluent
Personal growth, work-life balance, social impact
Purposeful work, professional development, diversity and inclusion
Respond well to collaborative and participatory leadership
Respond well to transparent leadership
Display entrepreneurial aspirations
Inclined toward intrapreneurship (entrepreneurial behavior within organizations)
Diversity and Inclusion
Value diversity and inclusion
Heightened awareness and emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusivity
It is essential for managers to recognize and understand these differences to effectively lead and manage employees from each generation. Flexibility, open-mindedness, and an adaptive leadership approach can help create a harmonious and productive work environment that meets the needs of both millennials and Generation Z.
Managing Generation Z is challenging. However, they also have struggles that are unique to their generation. Managers can deal with these challenges by creating a culture that leverages Zoomers’ strengths and breaks the negative expectations they might have of work.