Meet your interns. They expect to work hard for success. They're realists, not optimists. They want to build things--like, with their hands. They're compliant rather than collaborative, and they focus on the future rather than expecting rewards today. This is GenEdge (also called Gen Z), and they are a big change from the Millennials who preceded them. If you haven't noticed differences yet, you soon will.
Born between 1995 and 2010, GenEdgers grew up online, during a recession, and with attentive parents who didn't hover. The result is a generation of resourceful, realistic self-starters.
How will you manage this group? Try these tips.
Remind them to check in.
For Millennials, childhood was team-based. They hung with posses and dated in groups. Parents, coaches and teachers directed their activities 24/7. They brought this to the workplace in the form of 24/7 collaboration. The GenEdge childhood contains more independent play and "free range" time.
Management tip: You may be used to urging Millennials to step out and lead. If you are a Millennial, you may wrestle with the question of when to act on your own. Tweet This With Edgers, the pendulum will swing. They find it easier to be self-directed. In fact, they may under-communicate with you and neglect to ask important questions. Remind them to check in.
Talk real numbers.
Edgers grew up during a long and lingering recession. They understand budgets and saving. The majority of them say they like to save money more than they like to spend it. Unlike leading edge Millennials who started working during flush financial times, GenEdgers come to work with realistic expectations about compensation and perks.
Management tip: Give them straight talk about money. Explain financial aspects of the job with complete transparency—performance standards, margins, the relationship between their performance and the bottom line, realistic timelines for advancement, and opportunities to over-perform and earn more. Edgers expect to work to live, but they’ve never worked before. You have to show them how.
Tell them they are tech translators.
It’s not your imagination—Edgers are fast when it comes to juggling data. Their brains were shaped by online interaction from the time they were toddlers. They talk fast, and they weave through online info with speed older gens just can't muster.
Management tip: If Edgers sacrifice accuracy for speed, emphasize attention to detail. Most Edgers need training when it comes to sharing technology and information with colleagues and customers of other gens. Tell Edgers that part of their job is to be tech translators. Talk them through the best ways of sharing online info and digital tasks with other generations.
President of Generational Edge, Amy Lynch has written and spoken about the generations for 15 years. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Amy has been quoted in national publications, including The Washington Post, USA Today, Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and NBC Evening News, among others.