Fasten your seat belts because you're in for a bumpy ride. Just when you'd finally thought you'd figured out how to manage and motivate millennials, a brand new cohort is arriving at your front door: Generation Z. And trust me, they're as different from millennials as Trump supporters are to Hillary's base.
To further complicate your life, I've researched two separate analyses of Gen Z (anyone born 1995 and 2015) and found no one agrees what might help you manage a group whose collective spending power is a tidy $413 billion.
The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper suggests they're anxious, distrustful and downright miserable. Meanwhile, our very own Inc.com's Shane Atkinson argues there's tremendous upside to your business IF you understand their wants and needs.
Being the intrepid explorer that I am, I wanted first-hand information. So, I sat down with eight Peppercomm Gen Z employees, and asked them to help me help you better manage and motive these arrivistes.
Here's what they said:
1.) Make their work relevant. My Gen Z'ers said they often underestimate the difficulty of tasks, the time the work will take and how much effort it will take to successfully complete it. That leads to procrastination as well a lack of attention span and focus. Inspiring, no?
Ah, but here's the solution: Don't just explain the assignment. Explain how it fits into the overall picture and, in turn, how your business fits into their overall desire to make the world a better place. Answer those questions and they'll work long and hard because you've ignited their passion.
2.) Today, Topeka. Tomorrow, Timbuktu. Gen Z workers not only enjoyed their junior semesters abroad, they stayed in constant touch with the people they met in Paris, Prague or Punta Cana. Seeing and experiencing the world in the here and now trumps any sort of business experience so, if they like what their BFF is doing in Denmark, be prepared for them to resign tomorrow.
My only piece of advice: Don't assign them to critically important accounts.
3.) Slow them down. I don't want to suggest Gen Z'ers will emulate the executives at Volkswagen, Wells Fargo or Samsung and do whatever it takes to meet goals but, if they aren't told otherwise, these iconoclasts will invent their own processes and systems for completing things. And, that can spell disaster for you and me.
4.) The P word reigns supreme. Forget about attracting or retaining this generation if they don't buy into your organization's purpose or the way in which you're making the world a better place. They're all about aligning themselves with an organization whose values closely align with theirs. So, if your value proposition is simply to sell low-cost widgets, I suggest you instead hire downsized Baby Boomers looking to pay the next mortgage installment.
5.) Experience their world. Like Millennials (or any demographic for that matter), it's critically important YOU understand where THEY go to gather their news and information. My Peppercomm colleagues tell me Gen Z'ers consume The Skimm and The Onion, download podcasts from Tim Ferriss and Shane Smith, the founder of Vice, and adore a Facebook app known as Vevo. They also use Snapchat to follow breaking news. And, get this, they DO NOT use or trust LinkedIn, believing it to be inauthentic.
Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes acquainting yourself with these (and other) cutting-edge content sources.
6.) Explain the why. Gen Z'ers abhor assignments that pop up in their in-boxes with the task to be completed and the deadline. That's a no-no, especially if you expect anything worthwhile in return. This cohort needs to know the "why" of an assignment before they'll embrace it. So, spend a few extra minutes in connecting the dots for them.
7.) You need to earn their trust. This generation came of age during a non-stop deluge of fraud, deceit and duplicity. As a result, their bullshit detectors are uber sensitive to anything that even remotely hints at a hard sell. That includes everything from your internal culture to the widgets you sell. This group demands you earn their trust before they'll engage. Good luck with that one.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. If you expect your next generation of employees to perform at maximum efficiency, it's fundamental that you put yourself in their shoes. If you don't, they'll slip on their pair of clogs and hop the first flight to Patagonia to herd llamas instead.