Are You Ready to Manage Generation Z?

managing Generation Z

They don’t remember a world without the Internet. They think Facebook is for old people. And they've had a cell phone since junior high. They also watched their parents go through the recession, and they’ve learned some important lessons from that experience. Meet Generation Z. Born in the 1990s, they’re now ready to take the first step on their career path.

Generation Z has been described as “the reality-check generation.” They value creativity and innovation, like the millennials before them, but they also understand the importance of stability. Gen Zers will arrive in the job market looking to build their careers on a solid foundation, and they’ll need managers who can help them get off to the right start.

Earlier this year, Robert Half teamed up with Enactus, an entrepreneurial-oriented community of student, academic and business leaders, to survey more than 775 student members of Enactus. In the resulting report, Get Ready for Generation Z, they explained what Gen Z most values in a manager. These were three of the top-ranked qualities:

1. Honesty and integrity

This new wave of workers is not content with the old top-down model of management. They want to be deeply involved in the company, to understand its values, goals and culture. They also want the company to be interested in them. They expect an ongoing dialogue about their performance and development, and they want it to be open and honest.

Generation Z has grown up with social media, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they place such an emphasis on communication. Expect them to ask a lot of questions — and to be frustrated if they feel that they aren’t getting straight answers.

2. Mentoring ability

The students were also asked where they saw themselves in five years. More than half (56 percent) said that they expect to either be in management or working their way toward a managerial role. Generation Z will be looking to their bosses to help provide development, training and inspiration.

Life in the digital age means that Gen Zers exist in a state of near-constant learning, overloaded with information. Their mentors will need to teach them about prioritizing and contextualizing. Generation Z may also need to learn some general life skills, such as dealing with stress and staying positive when things go wrong.

3. Passion

One of the most common fears among members of Generation Z is that previous generations, such as the baby boomers, may not take them seriously. They are arriving on the job market with energy and enthusiasm, keen to put their fresh ideas into practice. How will those ideas be received by their new managers? They are eager to find employment with companies that share their passion.

In many ways, this is a classic problem. Graduates are highly enthusiastic, while more experienced employees temper their enthusiasm with pragmatism. The challenge for managers is, as it has always been, to harness that positivity and direct it toward measurable outcomes.

People born into Generation Z are not the smartphone-obsessed idlers sometimes portrayed in the media. They are hard-working, smart, cooperative and highly creative. They will have a bright future ahead of them, especially if they receive a little help from great managers at the beginning of their journey.

How are you interacting with Gen Z in the workplace? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Tags: Management