The Journal Gazette
 
 
Sunday, November 24, 2019 1:00 am

Gen Z needs employers to give feedback

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Lindsay Bragg of Inside Out Development casually shared some of the characteristics that help define that youthful group known as Gen Z.

• They want a good relationship with their boss, and many of them aspire to be the boss.

• They see straightforward communication as a must.

• They've always had information at their fingertips, so knowledge is less influential than information that is helpful.

Oh, and they're one of the most stressed generations. They're worried about mass shootings, suicide rates and student debt.

Organizations that want to be successful will have to manage them well, Bragg said at a free October webinar on Gen Z, sometimes called post-millennials.

Gen Z, some now in their early 20s, is one of the most diverse groups, including about 14% black and 4% Asian, said Bragg, whose firm provides services including employee training, team performance workshops and executive coaching.

Most in the Gen Z demographic see getting a college education as a requirement, not just a good option. About 80% believe they at least need a bachelor's degree to live a comfortable lifestyle, and 61%, according to some research, expect to start a business right after college. Organizations looking to hire them can attract and motivate them by highlighting the entrepreneurial tasks and responsibilities they can offer.

Gen Z saw their parents struggle during the last recession and want to avoid the same financial distress, Bragg said.

They want promotions and opportunities that demonstrate progress – more than other generations.

Some may consider that thinking as an entitlement mindset, but Bragg said the Gen Z population is likely willing to work longer and harder to accelerate their career path.

They fear getting stuck, so they're likely to take on different responsibilities. Their parents have viewed work as a means to the end, but millennials also want to have impact.

For one interactive poll during the webinar, Bragg asked whether listeners worked for organizations with opportunities for growth and development. Up to 35% responded yes and up to 38% responded no. The rest indicated they thought their employers were working on it.

Because Gen Z craves communication and feedback, Bragg said questions managers can ask to ensure they feel engaged include “what's working?,” “where are you getting stuck?” and “what will you do differently?” The last question allows employees to explore their own options and be part of problem solving.

“These are universal communication approaches,” Bragg said. “Gen Z is just more vocal in their need for communication.” 

A coaching culture is also important. In another interactive poll, listeners – who might have been any age – were asked to respond about their confidence in a manager's ability to coach.

Among the responses, about 14% agreed with the description of their managers as “superstar coaches.” About 42% indicated their managers were OK coaches, and 36% said their managers try, but don't really have time.

“Generation Z,” Bragg said, “won't tolerate that feeling of ambivalence about coaching.” 

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at lisagreen@jg.net. Lead On also appears online as a blog at www.journalgazette.net/blog/lead-on/.


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