7 Things to Know Before You Manage a Gen Z Team
What are some best practices for managing a Gen Z work team? Learn the who, what, why and how of today's most misunderstood generation.
Why should I care about Generation Z? Well, for starters, they're the youngest employees walking through your door, and they'll soon be taking over as we move forward in time.
Now, I don't know about you, but it's not easy keeping up with the generations. After all, didn't we just get done trying to figure out millennials? However, you might want to turn the generational page and start learning about the new kids on the block. Generation Z is here to stay, and their presence and perspective are changing everything –– including the way you manage your teams.
Are you ready? Ok. Let's get you started on this journey! If you manage Generation Z, here are seven points that you should keep in mind.
1. The internet is important to Gen Z
Technology is like coffee to Generation Z. You can't take it away without consequences.
Since childhood, they've had smartphones, Instagram and Facebook. They expect to connect online quickly and everywhere they go. This means that for them to be productive, they need a good connection to the internet.
If you want to gain the most from your Gen Z team, invest in good Wifi and limit unnecessary meetings. Yes. Gen Z is open to meeting in person more than their millennial siblings. But they don't see the point of seeing you at meetings daily. If they don't have to waste their time or their petrol, they'll choose to see you via Zoom. This leads us to the next point.
2. Gen Z wants more flexibility in their careers
Gen Z wants to work where they feel most productive. And this is not always in an office.
Think about it: WeWork changed the dynamics of work-life forever. It challenged the system and changed the concept of company culture. Generation Z values freedom. And this characteristic translates to their 9-5 workweek.
They prefer to work for companies that give them the chance to create their schedule. Gen Z likes to work around projects instead of wasting time around the water cooler.
Managing Generation Z isn't complex. But it is vastly different. The key is to give them the freedom to create their work-life balance. If they want to work three 12-hour shifts over the weekend, let them. Give your employees more flexibility and watch them be more productive.
3. Saving money is important to this generation
One of the major struggles for Gen Z is that they grew up during an economic recession and have seen their parents struggle financially. As a result, they are cautious about their finances. They don't just go out and spend money on impulse like some other generations might be more inclined to do. Instead, they prefer to work hard and save their money for things like retirement, travel or a down payment on a tiny home.
If you're managing Gen Z, it's crucial to offer them benefits that benefit them.
4. They want "some" in-person communication
While millennials texted family or friends, this generation prefers some form of face-to-face communication. This means that you should try your best to be available for them in person, rather than solely opting for a series of emails.
Now, don't get me wrong. As I stated earlier, Generation Z isn't looking to waste their time listening to an eight-hour monologue each day. If you can say it in an email, do that first. But, it's essential to make your presence known and show that you're available to your Gen Z employees. They want full access, and in-person communication offers that to them.
5. Gen Z is not afraid to ask questions
This generation speaks their minds and has strong opinions.
Managing Gen Z means that you need to carve out space for them to talk and you to listen. They want to offer their perspectives and make your product better.
Now, it might feel weird to hand the mic to your newest hires. But if you step out of your comfort zone, I promise you their ideas will give your company an edge over your competition.
6. They stand up for what they believe in
Gen Z was raised in one of the most chaotic economic periods. Think about it: They saw their parents lose jobs, their older siblings move back home and their futures get cloudy. Higher education could no longer be trusted. And it was up to them to figure out how to survive and live in a world of constant change.
Gen Z isn't looking for the next adventure. If anything, they're looking for stability and spaces to speak their mind. If you want to gain the trust and teamwork of your Gen Z employees, develop a safe environment where all your employees can come forward with ideas without fear of retaliation.
Managing this generation requires patience. But trust me, it's worth the wait. When you take the time to listen to this generation, you'll not only increase your bottom line, but you'll also become a more equitable, inclusive and diversified company.
7. They expect to be rewarded for their hard work
Gen Z is used to having instant gratification.
They didn't have to wait for AOL to load, mac and cheese to cook over the stove or bite their nails waiting for college acceptance letters via snail mail. Everything happened online. Since childhood, Gen Z could ask questions about religion, catch up on the Kardashians and add more Taylor Swift tunes to their Spotify playlist with one click.
If you're managing Generation Z, it's imperative to understand their need for immediate response. If they expect Siri to give them directions within seconds, they expect you to provide them with feedback that day. I know it feels weird. Many of us grew up with the idea of an annual review. But all that changed after millennials started to enter the business world.
Gen Z doesn't see the purpose in waiting. They grew up with instant everything. This is why, if you want to resonate with your new hires, you need to take some time to provide feedback. You can give them a high-five, ring a bell to celebrate or offer them one word of praise in passing. It doesn't have to be huge. You just have to be intentional and instant.
If you want to successfully manage Generation Z, it's necessary to understand their unique needs. From understanding how they learn best to taking time for feedback, these tips will help make your work environment more Gen Z-friendly.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor