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?

Today's post is written by Kronos Summer Intern, Megan Grenier. Megan is an intern on our mid-market marketing team. She'll be returning to Saint Anselm College this fall where she's studying communications.

My experience as an intern at Kronos this summer has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to learn and do so many new things. One of the most interesting aspects of my work experience - and sometimes one of the most challenging - has been learning to communicate appropriately with colleagues who span many generations.

When I first started, I had to learn many new technologies that I was not accustomed to. Next, I had to learn how each person I work with communicates. I work with fellow Kronites who span Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. It can get a little tricky trying to balance all of the communication styles!

I have had to ask a lot of questions: when should I send an email versus an IM? When is an in-person conversation the best option? Is it okay if I stop by my boss's office unannounced?

With so many questions, I have made a few mistakes: like not hitting “reply all” on an email or starting to work on a task my manager just emailed me about without first telling him that I was available to do so. While I have made my fair share of mistakes, I have learned a lot because of them. Perhaps the biggest two things I have learned is that it is okay to ask questions, and it is better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate.

And so, based on my experience, my two pieces of advice to future interns would be:

  1. Ask as many questions as you need to: It is better to get clarification early on, so you can be led in the right direction, rather than making errors along the way. I have noticed that my managers and coworkers appreciate my consideration, and it makes my life a whole lot easier.
  2. Overcommunicate. My managers always prefer when I give them more information than less. They want to be kept in the loop. So, it is okay if you send them that extra email, they will appreciate it.

Communicating with people in general can be a challenge, but multigenerational communication is a whole new ball game. To learn more about the topic, check out my series The ABC's of XYZ on Kronos's What Works blog, where I dive deeper into these questions, to help bridge the communication divide in a multigenerational workforce.

Board members Ruth Bramson, David Creelman and I recently met to talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by the increasingly multi-generational workforce.  The picture here makes fun of one particular cliche about Millennials, but there are differences between the generations in terms of their assumptions, preferences and beliefs about how work gets done.

When I talked to co-authors Meagan and Larry Johnson a couple of years ago, they reflected on the significance of the cultural events that shaped the beliefs of workers from different generations.  Increasingly, attitudes toward technology have become another aspect of difference.  The newest generation, still doesn't have an agreed upon moniker or birthdate for that matter. Re-Gen,Gen Z,Pluralist & or Homelander are all in play.  But they'll start to enter the workplace soon and what we do know about them is that they've never known a world without smartphones and social media.  Email?  That's what their parents use to communicate.

Tammy Erickson posits that there are four main dimensions on which the generations differ in the workplace:

You can listen to our discussion about these differences by listening to this podcast:  Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce - Ruth Bramson and David Creelman

We'd also love to hear what you think?  How important are generational differences in your workplace?

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