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Management experts can’t seem to get enough of Generation Y. If you want a lively conversation, simply walk into a room of business leaders and say the word “millennials”; then sit back and watch the sparks fly. While HR pros struggle to define this group and experts hash out the kinds of management techniques that bring out the best in this specific age cohort, few of us are noticing that years have gone by. And during that time, the quiet rise of Generation Z has begun.
Right now, most members of Gen Z are in high school or launching into their first college courses. They haven’t hit the workforce just yet, but they’re on the way, and they’re coming fast. And in many ways, this group will differ strongly from their millennial predecessors.
Technology and Overprotection
If you think kids born in the 1990s are “digital natives,” you haven’t seen anything yet. Wait till you meet the generation of babies who played with smartphones and iPads in their cribs. And when it comes to helicopter parenting, we’re likely to see the results of a pull-back by parents who consciously opted not to contribute to a “generation of wimps.” Gen Z will stand on their own two feet, and chances are, they’ll reflect more resilience and adaptability than anything we’ve seen in a long time.
Gen Z and the Quest for Success
Members of Generation Z are under intense pressure to “succeed,” though we still haven’t helped them by clarifying exactly what that means. No matter what they’re doing, they want to get it right. But to complicate this challenge, they’re facing a complex world in which becoming an adult requires a launch period so long and arduous that the task can’t be mastered within less than 95 years. They’re watching 30-year-old millennials struggle with crushing debt and an impossible job market, and they’re doing the math in their heads. Many of them are already deciding there has to be another way. They just don’t know what it is yet.
They’re Optimistic and Open-Minded
Gen Z will certainly land on their feet, like every other generation. But on the way, they’ll teach the rest of us inspiring lessons about optimism and working together. This generation is likely to be more collaborative, more inclusive, more socially skilled, more positive, more empathetic, and more respectful than any generation before them. Already, they tend to give each other a break, and they work hard to find common ground. They also show signs of being excellent listeners.
They Won’t Solve Problems Like We Do
When this generation arrives on the scene, get ready to be surprised. They won’t approach problems with familiar mindsets and time-tested answers. They’re more likely to seek solutions by turning to technology, those around them, and the larger world. Chances are, they’ll take the workplace by storm, and we’ll all be better off as a result. We’ll just need to harness their energy and provide the right perks in order to attract them, motivate them, and keep them on our teams.
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