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“Millennials are tech savvy. Gen Z’s are tech native.” - Shaara Roman

If your organization is still trying to engage millennials, unsuccessfully, then you are behind the curve. Millennials have been in the workforce for over 15 years and now Gen Z is knocking at the door.

In the U.S. alone, there are 70 million Gen Z’s -- about 25% of the population entering the workforce over the next 15 years, and it starts this Spring when the first class of Gen Z’s graduate from college.

Shaara Roman, Founder and Managing Partner of The Silverene Group, joins us today to share what leaders can expect from Gen Z’s and teach you how to leverage their talents and digital brilliance to drive success.

“Gen Z’s crave innovation and entrepreneurship -- 55%, globally, want to start their own companies.” -Shaara Roman

Before we address your organization, let’s get to know Gen Z’s. The three most important attributes that leaders should be aware of and focus on moving forward include:

  1. They’re digital natives. They were born in the era of smart phones and they are used to multiple devices. The result is that they have a much shorter attention span, they are extremely comfortable multitasking (and think they’re inefficient if they’re not), and Goldman Sachs reports that nearly half of them spend ten hours online every day.

  2. They are creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial. According to a study by Universum Global, 55% of Gen Z’s, globally, strive to own their own business. Keep in mind that the youngest members of Gen Z are only seven years old, so that number will very likely increase. This is also similar to millennials, more than half of whom have showed that they want to start their own business or work at a startup.

  3. They’re incredibly self-reliant, resourceful, and pragmatic. There's a lot of rich information and content on the web and they know how to find it quickly, so they don't feel they need to take a back seat to somebody just because that other person has more experience. This applies to the younger millennials, too.

Gen Z’s have grown up in incredibly complex and uncertain times, and they have adapted well by taking initiative, thriving in agile environments, and questioning status quo to identify if there is, in fact, a better way. Collaborative learning is second nature to them, and social media has only enhanced the importance of relationships. 

“When you're intentional with your culture, it's aligns with your business strategy.” -Shaara Roman 

So what does that mean for leaders and organizations?

Career development is more important than ever. According to an Adecco Staffing USA report, when looking for a first job, 36% of Gen Z’s are more interested in job growth opportunities than salary. We’re already seeing this with millennials, and it will only be more prevalent with Gen Z’s.

  • Leaders need to reconsider how career development works within their organizations. They need to de-emphasize promotions and, instead, create on-the-job learning opportunities and experiences. Communicate that development comes from new learning and growth opportunities, not strictly from promotions. This ensures that the work is more meaningful and purpose-driven. Allow your workforce to be intrapreneurs.

  • Develop a strong mentoring program, and tweak it to provide reverse mentoring and peer-to-peer mentoring. Mentoring is an excellent way for people to learn and grow -- it promotes creativity, innovation, and the ability to share the ideas and help others within the organization. And don’t simply limit it to talent inside your organization or pairing people up within a certain functional area. Think broad – think outside of your network.

  • Senior leadership needs to start thinking about employees as consumers. We will invest incredible sums of money and time to learn about about our customers so that we can better serve them, and we need to treat employees the same way.

Gen Z’s value relationships. We’ve heard the phrase “people leave managers, not companies,” and it’s true. The relationship between the manager and the employee is going to increase in importance.

  • We know that relationships are built on trust, but we don’t usually teach managers how to do that. The challenge is that our managers are often working managers who spend most of their time doing technical work, as opposed to management. Redefine the role and think of managers as coaches, and invest in training them to be effective coaches.

“You have to know who you are in order to lead others, and to help coach and develop others.” –Shaara Roman 

If you want people to want to work in your organization, you need to be intentional about your culture. That means putting thought and time into establishing an authentic culture, but also communicating that culture internally and externally.

  • According to Fortune, the top two companies to work for are Google and Wegmans Food Markets. These organizations are incredibly different and attract incredibly different people, and those leaders focus on what they want to see in that culture and push those sort of behaviors in the organization.

Three Things To Discuss With Your Team:

  1. Make sure you understand your employee demographics just as well as you understand your customer demographics, then build a culture to ensure that they will thrive.

  2. Develop a coaching mindset. You have to invest in your people, and not just your leaders – the coaching mindset needs to permeate throughout your organization because you have to be able to give and receive feedback in that coaching model.

  3. Find new and innovative ways to leverage technology for your people programs, from recruiting to onboarding to learning to career growth. The list is endless. Gen Z’s are technology natives and use multiple devices, so think about technology’s role in their lives and how you're going to evolve the programs at your company to meet expectations.

If you like what you hear, we invite you to subscribe via iTunes by clicking here and Google Play by clicking here.

And remember...Develop. Always.

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Resources:

Production & Development for Top Employers Institute’s Talent is Transforming by Podcast Masters