Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member and Cal Poly Pomona Chief Employment Officer Dennis Miller.  Generation Z leaders are coming up.  What is your organization doing to develop them?

A recent report from Workforce 2020 titled “The Leadership Cliff”, seems especially useful when contemplating how to start the process of leadership development for any demographic and perhaps most especially for Generation Z leaders.

In the report, in response to a question asking, “How well does your manager deliver on the following expectations?”, 53% of employees responded “well” or “very well” to “Leadership”, 49% to “Regular performance reviews”, 43% to “Regular feedback on my performance”, 42% to “Acknowledging superior performance”, 41% to “Mentoring”, 38% to “Availability/approachability”, and 30% to a “Well-defined career path”.

Further, research conducted by New York Times best-selling author and fellow Workforce Institute board member Dan Schawbel, shows that Generation Z employees prefer face-to-face communications with their manager when compared to technology-based communications, and I suspect this preference is similar among all generations of workers. Among the many data points in Schawbel's research, 81% of Generation Z employees aspire to be leaders, and 52% indicate that honesty is the most important quality for a leader to possess.

So, where does a manager start the process of developing a leader? I suggest to start by focusing on a core tenet for any good relationship, which is developing a trust-based relationship.

This is true for all employees, even if you might not feel a given employee will be in a leadership role. After all, one never really knows who will become a leader, and having a trust-based relationship with all of your employees should be the cornerstone of the employment relationship, regardless of a specific chronological generation.

What actions can managers take to develop a trust-based relationship? One technique is to start with routinely scheduled individual meetings, such as weekly one-on-one meetings. These meetings are informal and provide an ideal opportunity for the manager and employee to interact with one another, clarify the work expectations of both parties, remove obstacles toward goal achievement, allow feedback from both parties, and a long list of other mutual benefits. Still, this is the beginning of the journey where the trust between the manager and employee begins to take shape, not the destination.

A key outcome in all communications between a manager and employee is to communicate the intended message in a way that the employee understands. Being “clear” in communications may seem like the goal, but being “understood” is the true end-game.

Trust is often developed by actions that are in direct support of spoken words. For example, when a manager schedules and keeps a routinely scheduled meeting with their employee, the employee will begin to trust the manager, since the manager is following through on their commitment to meet at a specific time. Conversely, frequently changing or cancelling that same routinely scheduled meeting will have an opposite effect, and the employee will have no good reason to trust their manager. We know if a manager cannot be trusted on small things, it is difficult to expect that manager to be trusted on business issues with greater complexity.

What are your thoughts on where to begin the process of developing Generation Z leaders?

The following post was contributed by Amanda Boyle, one of our terrific summer interns.  Amanda (2nd from left in the front row) has done a lot of great work for us this summer, and we'll miss her!

Baby Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and now Gen Z are all defining generations that make up today's workforce. We're so quick to categorize an individual, placing them into a specific generational bucket, that it's easier to ignore their unique characteristics. We instead slap a label on them and call it a day.

Is the obsession over generations, especially when it comes to managing a workforce, really warranted? Or is there a better approach to considering what individuals want and need to feel successful at work? I may be at the early stage of my career, but the entire idea seems flawed to me, especially when you consider that the start and end dates for each generation are so fuzzy.

The end date of the Millennial Generation is yet to officially be defined, but it's commonly accepted that Generation Z starts somewhere around 1996-1999. Most of Generation Z, which society labels as my own, has never known a pre-9/11 world.  Gen Z's have grown up with cell phones glued to their hands and internet access anywhere they venture. On the flip side there are still some members of this generation, myself included, that don't identify with many of these “defining” characteristics.

Growing up, I was constantly told that I was a Millennial.  Born at the tail end of 1997, I was considered a “90s kid.” (I just made it!) I was alive for the turn of the century and was almost four when 9/11 happened. Young enough to not remember specific details, yet old enough to understand the event's enormity from my earliest memories. Quite frankly, it wasn't until my first communications class in college that I was even introduced to Generation Z.

My professor asked the class what generation we classified ourselves as. Half the class said Millennial and the other said Gen Z. Being told my whole life I was a Millennial and then finding out about Gen Z was quite confusing. Where do I belong? What should I categorize myself as? Should I let someone else categorize me? And ultimately, does defining my generation - or any generation - really matter? For those born between 1996 and 1999, this confusion is common.

One great thing about being an intern at Kronos is that there are fifty other college students in the program with you, all around the same age. So, I asked some of my colleagues about it in order to get their opinions on the matter. Their answers to my simple question – what generation do you categorize yourself as? – were exactly as I predicted. All of us were born between 1996-1998. Some said they were Millennials and others Gen Z, just like my college class. After discussing the topic for some time, we all came to the same conclusion: we are too young to be Millennial's but too old to be Gen Z's.  So where exactly does that leave us?

Ultimately those of us born between 1996 and 1999 feel as though we are stuck between two generations. We strongly identify with characteristic that comprise both Millennials and Gen Z's. We are a lot like Millennials when it comes to technology: we're older than Google!  We did not grow up with a cell phone and various other technological advancements as later Gen Z's had glued to their hands.

Instead, those born between 1996 and 1999 grew up like the rest of the 90s kids, watching early Saturday morning cartoons and spending the entire day outside in the summer playing. VHS was still a thing and Blockbuster was the place to be on Friday nights. The Motorola Razor was the most popular cell phone, and even then few classmates had one until middle school. iPads and tablets weren't a thought in people's minds and barely anyone had their own laptop until late high school.  We may be tech savvy individuals, but we didn't grow up with the same connection to tech as later Gen Z kids.

On the other hand, like most Gen Z's, we came of age after the turn of the millennium. We are extremely individualistic and have our minds set on making a difference to change the world. We did not and (luckily) will not enter the workforce during a recession. As we enter the workforce, the job market will be at its peak. Unlike most Millennials, we'll have a wide variety of job opportunities to choose from. We contain strong characteristics from both generations yet we still feel like we're not a part of either.

We are the gap between two generations. Sometimes it feels as though we've fallen through the cracks. We are not solely Millennials or solely Gen Z's, we're a hybrid of both. Feeling the same way the “early” millennials did. They experienced the same sort of “identity crisis” as we are going through now. Too young to be Gen X'ers, but their childhood and late adolescence was extremely different from your typical Millennial. Growing up in the 1980s was very different than growing in the 1990s. They did not enter the job market during one of the worst times in US history. They had to navigate the dot com bubble burst, but most were well established in their careers at the time of the recession in 2008.  Seeing as this feeling of falling through the cracks has happened before it will most likely happen again.

This poses the question: are generation ranges too wide? For a society that preaches individuality and uniqueness, why are we grouping people over a fifteen-year age range together? Why not five years? Why do we need defining generations at all? 1996-1999 babies are on the cusp of leaving behind adolescence and entering the workforce–the real world, if you will. We're unlike the Millennials before us. And different from the Gen Z's that will come after us.

I think a better way to approach the conversation about generations in the workplace is to instead look at the various life stages of your employee. I may fall into the gap between Gen Z and Millennial, but I have a feeling that my aspirations, goals, wants, and needs as a college student about to embark in my career aren't much different than someone who entered the workforce in the _90s, or _80s, or _70s, or _60s!

Until organizations change how they think about their employees, shifting from a generational mindset to a life stage mindset, I'll wear my own hybrid label proudly as the gap between two generations.  Who knows what we'll do or the impact we will have on the workforce? I can't wait to find out.


Today's post is courtesy of Gina Cincotta, a Gen Z intern at Kronos.  Although it seems like we've been talking about Millennials forever, Gen Z will shake things up further at work.  Read on to hear what one Gen Z'er thinks is in store for their employers.

I'm a member of Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2010, we follow on the heels of the Millennials. They were born into the era of digitalization, making them more knowledgeable about technology than any demographic that preceded them.  Until we came along, that is.

Why should you pay attention to us? - Gen Z is beginning to enter the workforce and is the future of your company. According to Nielsen's new Total Audience Report from late 2017, Gen Z makes up of 26% of our population, making us the largest group of individuals over Millennials and Baby Boomers.

What are the three C's Gen Z's want at work?

  1. Change: One of the most important things Gen Z wants is constant change in the workplace. Gen Z was born into a period where everything was always changing around them–from flip phones to the iPhone X and from VCRs to DVDs to livestreaming. Gen Z (also known as iGeneration) were born into a world of booming technology, and they therefore were born to evolve and to adapt much more quickly than previous generations. These digital natives are knowledgeable about all social media platforms and according to Julian Smith from The Drum, “research suggests that their brains have evolved to process more information at faster speeds, and are cognitively more nimble to handle bigger mental challenges.” Therefore, Gen Z will get bored at work quickly unless there are multiple tasks to complete and a constant change in their day-to-day work.
  2. Challenge: Gen Z loves a good challenge. A great way to keep them focused and busy is to constantly challenge them with something new. They have a craving to learn and know everything. On top of this, they are multi-taskers. According to a report by Forrester Research, 84% of Gen Z “multitask with an Internet-connected device while watching TV–using on average 1.5 other Internet-connected devices (e.g., laptops and cell phones).” From shopping in a store, to sharing a post on social media, to talking to their friends (all the while not walking into anyone) Gen Z can do it all –and at the same time!  According to Dan Schawbel from the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, more than “72% of high school students want to start a business someday” and “61% would rather be an entrepreneur instead of an employee” when they graduate. Even more so, more than 60% of Gen Z said they want to make an impact on the world. So make sure you have plenty of challenges for Gen Z and lots of opportunity for them to grow and learn, or they may begin to look for opportunities elsewhere.
  3. Competition: Gen Z thrives off competition. They want to be viewed as independent and therefore prefer to complete their work on their own and be evaluated one-on-one. According to a Forbes article, Gen Z. prefers to “manage their own projects so that their skills and abilities can shine through.” They are willing to work hard and play hard, but want to be recognized for it. “In fact, 77% of Gen Z anticipate working harder than previous generations to have a satisfying and fulfilling career.”

With their entrepreneurial characteristics and preference to be viewed as an individual, companies need to find a good balance between solo and collaborative projects for Gen Z. This means giving Gen Z spaces within the office that they can utilize when they want to work more privately.  Companies also need to provide a broad spectrum of opportunities for Gen Z to grow and take on larger roles. According to a Robert Half Survey, 64% of this generation ranked career opportunities as their main consideration in pursuing a full-time job.

Instead of focusing on where they will fit into your company, they are focusing on where does your company and position fit into their life.

What will your company do to create a work experience and environment that caters to Gen Z?

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