How active listening can enable leaders to better manage Gen Z talent
Today, India has over 65% of young (between the ages of 18-30) population, making it one of the youngest economies in the world with a median age of 28 years. Majority of this young demographic can be split into either Gen Z or the Millennial.
This generation is born into technological superiority, knowledge, and confidence. Human Resource professionals raised in corporate cultures of yore are overwhelmed with this wave of this young and dynamic Gen Z workforce, which somehow always has digital devices in hand, air pods in the ear, and a screen in front of them. Hence, it is again time to rethink our management approach and ideas. Collaboration, active listening, flexibility, and digitalization are the keywords for these young guns and also is the way to manage them better.
Who are Gen Z?
Gen Z are the people mainly born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. The Gen Z have a distinct characteristic – they are highly comfortable with technology and social media, extremely familiar with globalization driven by technology. Thus, Gen Z can be termed as the first one to truly follow a global culture in terms of communication and trends.
How to better lead Gen Z?
Consider new and innovative approaches to lead
Generation Z is more creative and would want to work on projects more independently and "own" them rather than being at the bottom of the ladder. They are willing to put in deep efforts in a job in exchange for future benefits. Be more active in your project management and work distribution. Work on using Gen Z's innovation for your company's benefit. Gen Z is fascinated by the progression of an idea from conception to completion. Allow them to participate in the process.
Generation Z employees are always seeking new challenges and it is important to hook them on to constant freshness and excitement. They are courageous and pro-risk. They see failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. They want their boss to provide them with engaging projects with clear objectives, with the hope that they will be able to work independently and with more responsibility.
Of course, like with any generation, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing Gen Z. Despite the diversity of interests, histories, identities, and other factors, there are numerous commonalities within the generation that arise from their shared experiences.
Much of the quantitative data accessible now reflects Gen Z's collective experiences, which, like ours, have influenced common ideas, habits, definitions of "normal," and overall expectations. One among them is their expectation of honesty and openness. Thus, if you want to earn and preserve Gen Z's confidence, you must keep it H.O.T. with them: honest, open, and transparent. You must be willing to talk openly, to back up your words with actions, and to follow through.
Deploy ‘purposeful’ leadership strategies
Generation Z is showing that job roles aren't everything. They are more interested in supporting their company's growth and success than climbing the corporate ladder. They love to see meaning and purpose in what they do. Purpose could be social or environmental impact, adding to companies bottom line or establishing a team. Provide them with healthy supervision more in the form of coaching and guidance. Allow them to express their ideas and channel their creativity in ways that benefit the company while also expanding their skill set. A recent survey showed that over 75% of the new-age workforce is willing to take up an opportunity that has multiple roles within one place.
Provide a variety of communication options
In spite of the amount of screen time Generation-Z has grown up with, they also seek face-to-face interaction. If you have a Gen-Z employee who works remotely, video calls are preferable than phone conversations. If they're in the office, schedule regular meetings so you can get to know them and make sure they're heard - this might also take the form of project meetings and team meetings. They want to be a part of a team and have a human connection.
Gen Z will require your feedback along with authenticity, openness, and transparency. A typical strengths-based approach does not connect as much with Gen Z due to their penchant for critical feedback. This isn't to say you shouldn't use a strengths-based strategy; it just means you need to guide them on areas that they need to improve as well. Be prepared to hear views on what they would expect from you as a manager or leader for them to grow and develop too.
Gen Z wants to see concrete instances of how their abilities can be put to use. Given their great desire to succeed, clarifying exactly what success means and then showing them how to attain it would be beneficial. Next up is to build on their strengths by offering them suitable roles or projects that will better showcase those skills.
Generation Z is extremely sensitive to ageism. They feel that in the workplace, age should be secondary to ideas and accomplishments. They want the chance to be heard and treated seriously, despite their eagerness to learn and awareness of their status as newcomers to the profession. Invite your Gen Z employees to strategy sessions, listen to their thoughts about your company, and value their input as highly as you would someone in a higher position. Their depth of insight and commonsensical and yet bold questions can bring the much needed pragmatism to Strategy.