The Best Way to Lead Gen Z

As most businesses have come to understand how to best work with millennials, many may assume the next generation will be identical. But don’t be so quick to make that assumption. Generation Z (Gen Z) and millennials are actually quite different in what they seek in their careers. To lead well, we must understand what Gen Zers are looking for from their work.

Typically born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gen Z has been raised in a vastly different world from many of us. Most have grown up not knowing a world without social media and instant internet. By 2020, Gen Z will be considered the largest group of consumers in the world. They are highly driven and determined. They are eager for experience, hungry to earn a solid wage and ready to jump into their careers sooner than most.

A study released from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed what Gen Z desires most in the workplace: Among the top of the list were health insurance, a competitive salary and a respectable boss. Gen Z doesn’t take their careers lightly. Hiring such youthful ambition will only benefit your business in the long run. So, as leaders, we must be ready to understand how they tick and how to lead them to success.

Here are five traits Gen Z is looking for in a leader: 

  1. Focus on coaching over teaching. Having been raised in sports and group activities, many desire to be mentored and coached rather than bossed around. In short: they are eager to learn. Take on the encouraging mindset of a coach — one that offers a call to action and praises their wins. It is important to emphasize that you are all on the same team.
  2. Stay to the point. They do not need lengthy, drawn-out lectures with unnecessary detail. Stay direct and focused. SHRM’s study found that 67% of Gen Z can only tolerate direct manager supervision for five minutes or less. Remember, this is a generation that doesn’t know a life without Google. When you check in on them, keep it brief.
  3. Highlight the meaning and purpose of their role. Recognize and verbalize what they contribute to the organization. Not only do Gen Zers seek affirmation (who doesn’t?); in the survey, 75% said they search for meaning in their career. Be sure to acknowledge the purpose of their role.
  4. Create opportunities for them to collaborate. While most of us have to learn to work with different age groups, 45% of Gen Z notes they face difficulties working with baby boomers. Stepping into the workforce can be nerve-wracking for this generation. Create a work culture that welcomes collaboration from all demographics.
  5. Call out their potential for growth, and do it often. While 75% would like to have a situation in which they could have multiple jobs in one place of employment, Gen Z knows it takes time to become established. They understand some roles may require more than others and are ready to put in the time. Take the opportunity to call out their strengths and potential. Utilize all the skills they bring to the table. They will likely stick around.

Young but driven, Generation Z is more ready to go to work than most. They are highly ambitious individuals. In fact, three-fourths of them say they are more worried about finding a job than they are about finding a soulmate. Gen Z will not only increase your team’s value, but you may also find them inspiring to work with.

Hiring and leading younger people may at times be intimidating, but it can be just as intimidating for them. With the right tools and insight, leading Gen Z can be intuitive. It will benefit your team, and it may very well improve the overall culture and work ethic of your business.