“Generation Z are hard to manage”

I’ve recently heard some comments over the past few months which have piqued my curiosity into why MDs and line managers believe this.  We’ve also had to think carefully about what our advice is in this situation.

Who are Generation Z people?

These are people who were born between 2001 and 2000 and are now entering into the workplace for the first time.

Generation Z are also known as the ‘on demand’ generation; they can have anything they want and when they want it from binge watching a Netflix series instead of waiting week by week for the next episode; food of their choice delivered quickly and without leaving their home and they can have items by the next day.

This appears to be translating into the workplace. What we’ve heard people saying about Gen Z:

“They don’t like to be given feedback/they can’t take criticism.”

“They are leaving after a short service as they aren’t getting promoted in the timescales they want.”

“They challenge the need for workplace hierarchy.”

“They are open about their issues and are often not sensitive to the impact they have on others.”

Stephen Bartlett in one his of Diary of a CEO podcasts mentioned the term ‘Quick Quitters’.  It’s likely that Gen Z will move between jobs more often than other generation.  After 5 years of moving jobs numerous times, he worries that individuals will have missed out of gaining great experience as they haven’t hung around to wait for those opportunities which often only come when trust has been built and internal experienced gained. 

We need to remember that these individuals are our future leaders and will be running organisations in 20 years’ time so what can we do to support them? 

Here are the positives of Gen Z:

  • They have grown up with technology so are very proficient in understanding systems and tech. They pick up developments quicker than other generations.
  • They understand and are at ease with social media.
  • They want to make an impact on the organisation and to see evidence of their contribution.
  • They are able to multitask and may have multiple screens and activity going on at the same time.
  • They are risk-takers and are venturing more into owning their own businesses than looking for employment.
  • They are more accepting of gay relationships and transgender rights. They are more open-minded; it is part of life. This helps to create inclusive workplaces.

What is our advice to business owners and managers:

  • Ensure that you are not encouraging generation separation which can lead to micro aggression.  Ensure that disparaging comments made by team members are dealt with. A diverse workforce is important for engagement, productivity and creativity and should be encouraged.
  • Encourage multi-generational working – let everyone learn from each other.  Step in and manage any conflict that may arise. Encourage your team to question and challenge but in a positive manner.
  • Be very clear in your expectations with Gen Z employees.  This starts by showing your culture in your recruitment adverts, discuss your expectations during the interview process, set clear and specific objectives and demonstrate the impact on the organisation and their progression when achieving these. This links to the ‘psychological contract’ – if you’re clear from start, you can manage expectations and everyone knows where they stand.
  • Be very clear on the timeline and experience needed in order for progression to occur and give opportunities to fail in a safe environment.
  • Have a succession plan, and during PDP’s, have frank conversations with constructive feedback and ensure they feel supported.
  • Ensure your communication methods are varied in order to connect with all your employees. Understand how your staff prefer to communicate and ensure engagement by using effective means.
  • Many businesses are worried that Gen Z are coming to workplace without the skills to equip them such as communication, receiving feedback, time management, appropriate behaviour in meetings etc. Therefore, ensure that these are included in your training offering. The induction period is key to this and so are regular 121s and annual reviews.

We hope that you gave found this article interesting and we’d be happy to discuss any issues with you.

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