What Keeps Generation Z Motivated at Workplace The younger generation puts more emphasis on how they feel than the generations preceding them
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Imagine a world where all your life you were told how great you were. People came to your rescue whenever you faced trouble. Your social interaction was limited to surface level communication that rarely caused a deep level of conflict, and when conflict did occur, you were always able to deal with it.
Now, all of a sudden, you step into your job and you have to deal with failure, you have to deal with the realization that you are not as good as you have been told all your life. You also have to experience face-to-face confrontation that you're not prepared for. To top it all off, you grew up with the unrealistic expectation of success and thought that becoming amazing was not too tough. This is the reality that the young generation coming to workforce, Generation Z, has been experiencing lately. The first step of leading this group of people is to understand the reality that they have to face. This is not about establishing blame, but creating empathetic understanding to be able to connect to people that seem to be completely different from previous generations (not true, by the way, as all generations repeat themselves on a cycle).
This article focuses on my experience with leading teams that are made up of 75 per cent of younger generation team members.
Understanding is Key
To help lead this group more efficiently, you need to understand what their desires are. How can you help them gain what they want while maximizing the return on your investment? The younger generation puts more emphasis on how they feel than the generations preceding them. A baby boomer may have stuck around a job due to its security and good level of pay; the younger generation may leave it for not feeling "fulfilment" at work. Leading with fear may have worked on a Generation X individual, but putting more pressure on a Gen Zer would be a bad idea. The old-fashioned stick-and-carrot motivation strategy is not as effective as it focuses on the materialistic things, and not on the way people feel.
Where the Focus Should Be
So if you want to motivate the new generation of workers, what is the feeling that, as their leader, you want to help them create? There are four main feelings that I have noticed. They are—feelings of being an expert at their craft, feeling of being in control of their life, feeling of making an impact and feeling of trust. Notice that none of them are based on "if you do this, you will get that approach".
Feeling of being an expert in their craft gives back the feeling of accomplishment that the younger generation had growing up. To apply this concept, allow your team members to become the developers and the teachers for their peers. Peer-based development is one of the most accepted forms we can provide as leaders.
Power of Choice
Feeling like it is their choice to do something creates more of an ownership and allows for greater levels of execution from team members. This way of leading requires less checking in on the progress too. To apply this concept, try to lead from a results-based approach. Determine what the outcome needs to be and let your team members find a way to get there to include their schedule, priority of execution and whom they work with when possible.
Keep them Happy
Whether they are a janitor, receptionist or the senior level manager, each employee needs to feel how they are making a positive impact daily. This feeling of purpose will have them smiling daily as they walk through the doors of their place of employment and we all know what businesses achieve when their employees are happy. Discuss stories of positive impact and paint clearly how it would have not been possible without the team member's actions.
Most importantly, all of the earlier mentioned feelings cannot happen if there is no feeling of trust. Too often I hear managers say that trust must be earned. Extend trust like you extend respect. We all are human beings and deserve to be trusted until we prove otherwise, and even then we can fix things if we make mistakes. One of the best ways to show trust is to find ways to not make a team member feel like you are always watching them. If they ask you for some time away, trust them and don't ask for proof or reasons.
To win a mind is great, but to win your team members' hearts is priceless.