How to Manage Generation Z: 10 Tips You Need to Know

How to Manage Generation Z: 10 Tips You Need to Know

As a business leader, you may wonder how to manage Generation Z. This generation, born between 1996 and 2010, is the most diverse, technologically savvy, and educated generation yet.

And they are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the workforce.

Now, this is not to say that they’re difficult personality-wise; they’re actually quite easy to get along with. But they do have some specific characteristics that you’ll need to take into account when managing them. For starters, they’re not a carbon copy of millennials.

There are some overlaps in values and attitudes, but there are also some key differences––especially when it comes to what they expect in the work environment.

Here are 10 tips that will help you manage Generation Z:

1. Get to know them as individuals

This generation is all about individuality.

And this is why, in the work environment, they want to stand out and be recognized for their unique skills and talents.

Millennials may have been happy to be part of a team, but Generation Z wants to be known as an individual contributor.

And that means, as a manager, you’ll need to get to know each person on your team––their skills, their goals, and what makes them tick.

2. Encourage their creativity

Generation Z is one of the most creative generations we’ve ever seen. And they’re not afraid to take risks, which is something you should encourage in the workplace.

Encourage your team to think outside the box. Not only will you get some great new ideas, but you’ll also show them that you’re open to change and willing to try new things.

Gen Z is all about innovation. So, when you encourage their creativity, you’re also showing them that you’re an innovative leader––something they’ll respect.

3. Be transparent

Now, I’m not suggesting that you share all of your company’s secrets with your team or what you had for dinner last night.

No one needs to know everything. There’s still is such a thing as TMI. But what I am suggesting that you lead from a place of transparency.

This means being honest when you make a mistake.

And showing your team that failure moves you one step closer to success.

4. Give them autonomy

Unlike millennials, Generation Z isn’t as impressed with team-building exercises and group projects. They like to work independently and they want the freedom to do things their own way.

So, as a manager, if you want to win points with this generation, give them the autonomy they crave. That doesn’t mean that you abandon them completely. Your team still needs to know that they can rely on you for guidance and support.

But, whenever possible, give your Generation Z employees time to work on their own. This is why project-based work is ideal for this generation. They have the freedom to work independently, check in when they need help, and meet the deadline on their own terms.

5. Keep them challenged

One of the downfalls of Generation Z is that they get bored easily––and very quickly. So, if you want to keep them engaged, you need to keep them challenged.

This means giving them opportunities to learn new things, grow their skills, and try new things. Especially things that are outside their comfort zone––and their job description.

Remember, unlike Generation X and baby boomers, they have no intention of working for you for their entire lives. It’s not that they’re disloyal.

They just want to experience as much as possible. And this is why if you want to get the best out of them, give them the chance to step up, try new things, and stretch their abilities.

They’ll feel like you really trust them and they’ll be more engaged as a result.

6. Be flexible

Remember how I said that Generation Z likes to work on their own terms? Well, this also means that they expect (and need) a certain degree of flexibility in the workplace.

This generation doesn’t believe in the 9-5 grind. They want (and need) the freedom to work when and where they want. So, if you’re not offering some level of flexibility in your workplace, you’re going to have a hard time attracting––and retaining––top talent.

I get it. It can be scary to let go of the traditional work model. But, if you want your team to be productive, and manage Generation Z, you need to rethink the past.

After all, work isn’t a place you go anymore. It’s something you do––and Gen Z wants to be able to do it anywhere in the world.

7. Get rid of the hierarchy

Gone are the days when people were content to work their way up the corporate ladder.

You and I might have been happy to put in our time, pay our dues, and wait for our turn. But, that’s not how Generation Z operates. They want to be able to have a direct impact on the company––and they want to be able to do it now.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This sounds like entitlement. And in many ways, a recipe for disaster. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Think about it this way, if you can harness this energy and channel it in the right direction, you’ll have a team that’s highly motivated, a step ahead of the competition, and always looking for ways to improve. And what manger wouldn’t want that?

8. Encourage their entrepreneurial spirit

Generation Z is the most entrepreneurial generation we’ve ever seen. After all, not only will your team think outside of the box, they’ll also be constantly looking for ways to improve and innovate. And this can lead to all sorts of new opportunities for your business.

So, how can you encourage this entrepreneurial spirit? Here are some tips:

  • Encourage risk-taking: This generation is all about taking risks. So, instead of trying to protect them from failure, encourage them to take chances and learn from their mistakes.
  • Create a culture of innovation: Encourage your team to share their ideas and be open to new ways of doing things. The more you can foster a culture of innovation, the more likely you are to see new opportunities for your business.
  • Give them the freedom to experiment: If you want your team to be innovative, you need to give them the freedom to experiment. This means giving them the time and resources they need to try new things and explore their ideas.

In short, give them space to create, and you’ll be amazed at what they can come up with.

9. Keep an open mind

Generation Z is the least likely generation to conform. They’re independent, they like to challenge the status quo, and they’re always looking for new and better ways to do things. So, it’s no surprise that they’re also the least likely to tolerate intolerance.

If you want to create a workplace that’s welcoming and inclusive, you need to keep an open mind.

This means being willing to listen to new ideas, even (and especially) if they challenge your own beliefs. It also means being open to change and willing to try new things.

Because, at the end of the day, evolution is inevitable. And there’s no bigger turn-off for Generation Z than a workplace strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

10. Keep your promises

Generation Z has been called the most skeptical generation. And it’s no wonder why. They’ve seen firsthand how broken the system is.

Plus, they were raised on social media––which means they’ve seen how easy it is for people to hide behind a screen and pretend to be something they’re not.

Gen Z isn’t going to take your word for it. They’re going to need proof. And that takes time, patience, and a whole lot of energy.

But if you can earn their trust, you’ll have a team that’s fiercely loyal and always willing to go the extra mile. In fact, you’ll probably find that they’re the ones pushing you to be better.

So, how can you build trust with Generation Z? Here are some tips:

  • Be transparent: Don’t try to hide things from your team. If you’re honest and open with them, they’ll be more likely to trust you.
  • Keep your promises: If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you follow through. Gen Z team members will hold you accountable if you don’t.
  • Be authentic: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Gen Z can see through the BS. So, just be yourself and let your team get to know the real you.

This generation is independent, creative, and always looking for new and better ways to do things. If you can tap into their unique strengths, you’ll have a team that’s unstoppable.

Here are three other articles to help you understand Generation Z:
Dr. Colleen Batchelder
As a Leadership Strategist, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, Executive Coach, and National Speaker, I help leaders create companies where Millennials and Generation Z want to work. My doctoral background in leadership and global perspectives also gives me an added edge because I approach generational dissonance from all directions, including from an anthropological, theological, sociological, and ethnographic lens.