If you’re over 30, you’ve probably made the mistake of trying to dump everyone under 30-ish into the much maligned box called MILLENNIAL. This post isn’t going to be about my beliefs that Millennials have received a bad rap by old folks (how does that feel Traditionals, Boomers, and X-ers?). It’s going to be about the fact that everyone under 30 is NOT a Millennial. There’s a whole new generation we need to get to know—Generation Z.
Gen Z is still being defined, but to begin with, they’re people born approximately 1996. Notice the timing. They were around the age of 5 at the time of the 9/11 attacks. We all know that the world changed significantly then. There’s a definite BEFORE and AFTER. This generation really only knows and remembers AFTER, so as a group, they have different values and needs than their older counterparts, the Millennials. They’re more competitive, entrepreneurial, and independent. Gen Z has a strong need for “security,” and if you thought Millennials were digitally savvy, this generation is the first true generation of digital natives. They have no recollection of a world without smartphones, emojis, and free WiFi.
However the most significant difference to me—and to you if you’re a leader, supervisor, manager, or business owner—is that Generation Z wants more Face-to-Face Communication.
Since Gen Z has grown up with technology their entire lives, they’ve seen and heard the downside of digital communication as well. They acknowledge that some elements of communication get lost in technology, and they realize their own weakness when it comes to interpersonal communication. In fact, in a recent global workplace expectations study conducted by Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm, and Randstad, the third-largest HR services and staffing company in the U.S., more than 50% of Gen Z respondents said they prefer in-person discussion over instant messaging or email. So what does this mean to you?
Ensure your hiring processes have live, in-person elements.
Although many organizations have opted for online job postings, phone or video call interviews and virtual tours, it may be time to get back to in-person interviews, physical tours where candidates get to meet their counterparts, and “live” orientation meetings that allow new employees to get to know one another.
Make time for frequent face-to-face employee “check ins.”
It’s not enough to tell your employees, “My door is always open.” Trust me, many of them don’t want to come to your office with problems or concerns unless they absolutely have to. This means you have to go see them—and I don’t mean asking in a staff meeting, “How are things going everyone?” I mean taking the time to regularly sit down with each of your employees to check in to see how they’re doing, how they think the team is doing, and how you can support them. This advice is nothing new. I’ve been saying this for years. However, with Gen Z ,the need for check ins is even more critical. Although they like to work independently, they have a strong need to know where they stand and that they’re on the right track. Therefore, frequent check ins are important to keeping them happy and productive. They also thrive on feedback, especially POSITIVE FEEDBACK which lets them know what they’re doing is working and encourages them to keep moving forward.
Provide clear directions and clear, structured, procedures.
As a generation whose world has been defined by fear, insecurity, and chaos, Gen Z craves order, structure, and predictable practices at work to be focused and productive. This means you’ll need clear processes and procedures that are documented, AKA Standard Operating Procedures. Gen Z will also be better able to reach their potential and help you achieve your goals with excellent training not only in processes and procedures, but also customer service and communication. This includes LIVE workshops, one-on-one on-the-job training, and mentoring that are structured, well thought out, and include clear instructions, checklists, and status update opportunities.
Get back to having regular staff meetings.
It amazes me how many leaders don’t make the time for regular staff meetings or only meet with staff when something goes wrong. Staff meetings are a critical time to problem-solve, give and get feedback and more. If you’ve stopped having regular meetings because they’re a “waste of time,” either you or your team are approaching meetings the wrong way.
For more information on more effective meetings, check out these three past posts: