Running a team comes with challenges that even the most experienced leaders may not know how to overcome. We all need advice from time to time, but finding the right sounding board can be a challenge all on its own. So instead of trying to track down a mentor or board member, think about going to an unlikely source: your youngest employees.
When looking for new ways to approach an issue, leaning from your 20-something staff can become an effective way to devise fresh ideas that even you may not have previously considered. Similarly, there's a chance that these Gen Z's may even become your most trusted talent.
Hear me out. I'm no stranger to the entitled 20-something. We've all dealt with that entry-level employee who thinks they're qualified enough to earn a CEO's corner office and six-figure salary immediately after graduating college.
Yet this generation grew up in an entirely different way. They've only known a world with internet, started their first Facebook account in elementary school, and are used to a world where information is being thrown at them from a handheld device.
Sometimes the best advice doesn't come from age, but rather perspective. Learning from your staff can also help to spark a new sense of empowerment within them, since their voices and opinions are being heard and taken seriously.
Here are three lessons I've learned from 20-somethings that leaders can apply to their daily lives.
1. Be open to change.
Younger professionals get bored easily. They like trying new things. And while this may be challenging to keep them employed, it can come in handy when it comes to pivoting and navigating any fast-paced market.
The older I get, the more I love my routine. However, this can cause complacency and stagnation. Innovation can sometimes only be found by those that have just started in the workforce and are willing to push boundaries in ways that you may not have even considered.
Young talent can bring fresh ideas and positive change to your company. Listen to what those 20-somethings have to say. It may just change your business for the better.
2. Don't settle.
Twenty-somethings strive to find a job they're passionate about. They want to work for a company that offers the values, impact, and culture they read about (or saw on Netflix). And they're not willing to settle for anything less.
As an employer, this may seem like a con rather than a pro. After all, they did earn the 'job-hopping generation' for a reason. However, if your company does align with what they're looking for, then you can bet they'll be passionate and work hard.
Life is short and our time is valuable, so why waste it working for a company you don't connect with? Personally, I'd rather have people quit than feel like they're settling.
3. Speak up.
Feedback is imperative for anyone to improve, leaders included. When people are too afraid to share critiques of the boss or offer ways to improve current processes, the business begins to suffer.
Generation Z isn't afraid to speak up, and I admire this profusely. Learning what your employees need from you as a leader can implement change, as well as build confidence, trust, and strong leadership skills for everyone involved. This can also lead to a more productive work environment, and help to make your team feel heard, appreciated, and more passionate about their job.