I want to get into it. I recently read an article from Justin Welsh about Generation Z, it was soo well written I asked him to join me on a call where we can discuss this in further detail. After our conversation I loved everything he said about this new generation that I decided to transcribe the entire conversation below.
Gen Z Are Entitled
Not many people know this but when you sit down with Justin, there is a sense of calmness he emits. I felt at ease, I felt safe to be me. So as the conversation began, with a sense of ease I asked him about the perception of Gen Z.
Justin candidly responded with, “It starts with companies just not identifying who they're really trying to bring into their business.”
As I stared at him, he understood that I needed clarification to which he responded with…
“So what I mean by that is if I scroll through LinkedIn or I read blog posts, I see a ton of blog posts around the millennial generation. It's this big Buzzword, how to treat millennials, how to hire millennials, the millennial generation.
And I think what people don't realize is that I am a millennial and I'm 37! So if you haven't figured out how to work with people my age yet, then you're, you're in trouble. So you should be focused on the up and comers for your business, which is Generation Z. And I think the biggest myth may be that I see around Generation Z are some of the ones that are similar to the millennial generation, which is not being focused.”
He explains how just like the millennial generation, Gen Z find themselves up against a wall where people think they are so entitled and all they want to do is “...eat their cake and have it too. I've, even heard things like they don't work hard. They want everything fast. And I can appreciate how different generations label other generations…”
Justin pointed out that, that type of person exists in any generation and that this is just being generalized to a group that we don’t fully understand. But I believe that the reason Get Z got this stigma is because they were brought up with everything at their fingertips. While millennials learned how to use the computer as it was evolving, Gen Z were brought up into it.
Bane puts it best to Batman “Ah you think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”
So why wouldn’t they expect the same results they have been given? This isn’t entitlement… When I think about it in my perspective, the minute I found out airplanes had wifi was the minute I got excited and then very frustrated that it wasn’t working properly.
What Do Gen Z Bring to the Table?
What stood out during the call was something I never considered, Justin pointed out that this new generation have a really high degree of autonomy. What that means is they are self doers, they can figure out how to solve problems faster.
“They know how to figure out problems. They've been googling problems since they were little kids versus going out and, uh, you know, asking someone to solve it for them...if you allow them to be right, if you give them a problem or in say our challenge and say like, Hey, we can't figure this out. Do you think you could go solve this for us?It's really fun to watch them go do that. Cause they're really empowered.”
This is insanely a great point, having people on your team that are able to just go and do things is every managers wish. But the issue is a lot of managers aren’t able to understand how to manage those individuals and more importantly let go of their ego that everything needs to get done the way they have outlined it.
It seems to me Gen Z are just highly intelligent individuals due to the fact that they were born surrounded by information, again, at their fingertips. They were raised with technology so they can maneuver in and out of it quickly finding answers and solving problems then I ever could.
It’s up to us to be able to give them freedom to do just that and not bog them down and suppress their creativity.
Can You Teach Me That?
I’ve noticed one thing in common with all great leaders, they are very knowledgeable, but they have a thirst to learn and grow more. They know that they don’t have the answers very much like sway.
Now understanding how Justin views people and especially how he views his employees, I can see he’s constantly learning.
So I asked Justin very simply, “What are some things we can learn from this new generation?”
Justin replies with,
“...If you rewind maybe 10 to 15 years when I was just getting into sales, the biggest way to incentivize folks was monetary. It was a bigger salary, more stock options, things like that. Those are still really great ways to incentivize folks and I would encourage you to do it. But Gen Z seems, at least in my opinion, have a big focus on, on social good...And so what we've learned from them is it's part of corporate responsibility to give back...And I think that that generation is really spearheading a lot of that.”
He showcases to me that Gen Z folks aren’t very motivated by compensation, not to say they don’t care for it. But they are just more mission driven, just like Batman. They are driven to literally make the world a better place and that is something to be admired because this new generation will constantly push us to be better individuals.
The Problems Managers are Facing
Justin points out the reason a lot of people are having a tough time with managing was because they don’t set expectations early and then they don’t take a hands-on approach to help build their team. As a leader, you need to make sure you’re helping your employees succeed, not the other way around.
As the conversation about this topic continued, something came to my attention. It made me realize why Justin was so successful and was something I haven’t seen in myself to this degree. Justin invests in his employees, he takes an interest in making sure they are motivated to be their absolute best.
“What I've found is that the easiest way to surprise and delight your employees, which in turn leads to motivation, is to make investments in them. So for instance, it can be a small investment, right? It doesn't have to be a huge paycheck or a big extra bonus, what it could be as simply buying them a book that helps them solve the problem that they're, they're struggling with.
I can think of a time where, one of my top salespeople was struggling negotiating and rather than just be like, yeah, you should go home and Google it yourself. We went home and we looked up some courses on you to me and we found two great negotiation courses and bottled for delivering them to her inbox and said like, ‘Hey, this is a gift from the company. We want to invest in you and by investing in you, we get better returns as well. It's a win win, right?’”
Do not sleep on this new generation they have a lot to offer, you just need to identify what you are specifically looking for and hire those specific candidates that are driven to your mission.
You also need to allow your employees room to grow and nurture them as much as you can take time and invest in them and you’ll see more return. Being a manager does not mean to hire and lose track. If you buy a plant you don’t just set it aside, no you take the time and nurture it so it can grow to be whatever it was made to be.
Finally, take a sip of the Justin Welsh Kool-Aid it’s very tasty and he’s one of the best thought leaders out there.