How good are your TikTok chops?
I bet you, like me, aren’t exactly fluent, but Gen Z, the youngest cohort in the workplace, are the digital natives who live and breathe all the latest digital trends and adopt them without much effort.
These young people born between 1995 – 2012 are the newest faces of the workforce, taking up entry level to associate level jobs. They are also called Zoomers or the Internet Generation because they have never known the world without the Internet, social media or mobile phones, laptops and such.
Seasoned leaders are usually the ones tasked with teaching them about how the organizations work, and with equipping them with the proper professional skills and work ethic.
But mentoring goes both ways and there is much to be learned from these young people. Their unique perspective on society, work ethic, values and the world in general is slowly creating a shift in how we work.
Once they reach the middle manager position, there is a chance they will have created a real revolution in the way we approach work and workplaces, and also in the role and functionality of management and leadership.
So what can seasoned leaders learn from the Gen Z cohort?
Here are the top 3 insights I’d like to share from my experience with the Gen Zs so far:
Work Isn’t Everything
How many times have we lectured these young people about the value of hard work?
Typically, all we get in response from this cohort is the rolling of their eyes.
Gen Zs look at work not as the center of their lives but as means to be able to live the life they want. They are very aware of factors that cause them stress, burnout and job dissatisfaction and they set firm boundaries to prevent them.
The Gen Zs are not shy to hold their employers accountable for their promises to create (mentally) healthy workplaces. Come to it, they are not shy to hold their employers accountable for any promises or declarations. With this cohort, it’s either you earn their trust and respect by walking your talk, or they will walk out on you. No hard feelings, they just don’t want to work for “fake leaders”.
Impact and Values are Everything
Gen Zs look for companies and leaders that directly align with their own values. They look for meaning and a positive impact in the things they do.
Once they find it, they are engaged and motivated, even passionate. But don’t expect them to buy empty “corporate speak” or to fall for empty corporate mission statements. They are serious about what Omar L. Harris calls J.E.D.I. Leadership: social justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
Deliver, and they will give you their best.
Disappoint them, and you will be looking for their replacement faster that you can say “fake corporate values”.
Breaking Down Work Constructs
Even before the pandemic has proven that remote work is possible for almost all industries, Gen Zs have been creating jobs that weren’t there even 10 years ago such as Content Creator and Vlogger. They openly challenge the Industrial Revolution idea that work is meant to be done inside an office cubicle from 9 to 5.
Instead, they reinvent what it means to work, taking productivity, creativity, collaboration and flexibility to a whole new level.
Over to you: which of these three resonates most with you as a leader and how can you apply it to your own leadership situation?
Would you consider “reverse mentoring” and ask your Gen Z employees to mentor you about their values and their perspective on how we work and lead?
With leadership greetings,
More Resources For You:
J.E.D.I Leadership explained by Omar L. Harris