Gen Z’s are coming of age and beginning to enter the workforce. So the rumblings about Gen Z and how they will function in the workplace has already begun. But to my surprise, it isn’t Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who are expressing their concerns with me, it’s you. Millennials.
So I hear you. You are worried. They are so different from you and when you think about your little brother or sister, or neighbor kid coming to your place of work, it is hard to take them seriously. I get it. Because that is what others say about you.
The beauty of generational differences is that it is cyclical and many of us will experience the fears and doubts of those who came before us. Having doubts about the next generation has happened to every generation. It is part of growing up and distancing ourselves from the young. The good news is that we all have much more in common than we think we do.
But what could be the difference between your generation and those who came BEFORE you?
How you treat this next generation can make all of the difference in the world. Do you want Gen Z to experience the same type of backlash and exclusion that you experienced or do you want to do it better?
Do it better, of course.
Here are 3 Steps you can take today to ensure you are great leaders for the Gen Z:
#1 Take inventory
Many of you have experienced tension and bias in the workplace because of the negative attitudes about your generation. This is something you do NOT want to repeat so take an inventory of your experiences, and identify positive support you got that made a difference, and then what was lacking. You could even ask your friends, and together develop a comprehensive list of the type of experiences you want to provide to young talent entering your organization, and the type of experiences you want to avoid.
#2 Develop generational competence
One of the greatest challenges facing the workplace today isn’t your generation, but the fact that for the first time there are four and now up to five generations working together. This type of age diversity requires a specific set of attitudes, skills, and knowledge. Generational competence is the ability to communicate and behave effectively and appropriately in inter-GENERATIONAL situations based on one’s GENERATIONAL knowledge, skills, and attitudes. So do you develop generational competence?
- Do some research, and learn more about what makes each generation different. The Center for Generational Kinetics has great resources.
- Suspend judgment and keep an open mind. Bias is a natural process of your brain so we must be open and willing to challenge our own bias.
- Ask questions and listen deeply to the next generation. Each generation brings a new set of values and perspectives to the workplace, understanding them is essential.
Taking these three steps will enable you to figure out the best way to bridge your differences and build on your similarities, and develop generational competence.
January is National Mentoring Month! And you know I am all about mentoring. It is essential to our growth and development so it is critical that we all pay it forward and mentor others. There is an abundance of research that validates that mentoring increases engagement, retention, and productivity. Whether you mentor informally or establish a formal mentoring program within your organization, everyone will benefit. It is valuable and affordable solution to bridging knowledge gaps within your organization, developing talent, and fostering inclusion. Read the white papers I’ve written about mentoring and see how easy it is to get started.
So if you want to be the generation that makes a difference than be different. Learn from the mistakes of those who came before you and do better. Learn from their mistakes, develop the right attitudes, skills and knowledge, and mentor the next generation and build your legacy every day.