Gen Z employees are fast. They expect to work hard. They know the value of a dollar. What could go wrong?
Here's the tea. (Z slang for the gossip, the real dirt).
Trained by Tech
Your biggest challenge with Gen Z employees may well be the challenge their teachers and professors have been facing for years: lack of focus. These digital natives grew up reading Goodnight IPad rather than Goodnight Moon at bedtime. By elementary school, they were cross-platforming (mastering multiple social platforms at the same moment in time) and using five screens while working on a task.
With their brains trained by digital tech, Zs are fast at skimming and scanning, scrolling and pinching. They are natural multi-taskers. The only problem is . . . I forget. . . oh yeah, distractibility.
One of my interns recently did some research for me, and I was astounded to watch her text friends, listen to a podcast and market a friend's music—all at the same time she was in the office researching my project. All that distraction resulted in a disjointed piece of research that needed a lot of refinement later. To her credit, the intern knows she's distracted but finds it hard to work any other way.
Zs read less than 20% of the text on a screen or page, which calculates to 4.4 seconds for every 100 words. That's Fast. It's not precise.
Lesson one, it seems, is that those of us working with Zs should consider checking in more often than we did with Millennials, who were likely to check in with us. Also, we may need to focus on focus.
Here Comes the Curve
There’s a curve ball in all this. First, we have to get comfortable with Gen Z as digital natives who work fast online, onscreen and on platforms. Then we have to remember that when it comes to working with us, Zs want face-to-face. More than half of Gen Z say they prefer in-person communications with managers. Only 16% prefer email, and only 11% would rather have instant messaging.
Why does your face-to-face guidance matter so much? Perhaps because Zs grew up close to their parents and are staying close. The country saw a 400% leap in multi-generational households while Zs were in elementary and high school.
Zs trust their parents and look to them for guidance. They will transfer that trust to you if you are willing to nurture them and teach them the focus and precision they’ll need to perform.
Are you working with Gen Z? Join the conversation! @AmyLynchGenEdge on Twitter.
Amy Lynch works with companies that want to Harness the Power of Gen IQ: Generational Intelligence. She has spoken to hundreds of groups, from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Contact Amy about your next event.
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