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How to Become a Leader Gen Z Will Follow

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 4.13.2017

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Meet Matthew. He recently added a very promising recent college graduate, Taylor, to his marketing team. Even though she is young and new to the workforce, Matthew is extremely impressed with how quickly Taylor catches on and is moving in her own direction.

As Taylor finds her way in the company and quickly grows, Matthew finds it less necessary to check in with her. Decreased employee communication is often a manager’s way of showing employees they’re doing well and they trust them to continue doing so without a manager breathing down their neck.

Unfortunately, a short time after Matthew gives this silent compliment to Taylor, she puts in her two weeks notice. This came as a shock to the entire team. She was on track to quickly be promoted and reach new heights of success with the company.

So, what went wrong?

Matthew’s form of managing, while once effective, is actually what resulted in Taylor’s departure. This may be largely due to the fact that, according to a recent Randstad USA study, Gen Z finds ‘communicative’ as the most important quality in a leader.

The moment employee communication with Taylor decreased is the exact moment her engagement and interest in the company dropped. While there are many similarities between millennials and Gen Z, the differences could make or break your company’s retention in the years to come.

Here’s how to become a leader Gen Z employees will follow:

Help them work for their success

Rumor has it the generations to come are lazy and will expect success to fall in their laps. A new Millennial Marketing study found Gen Z wants the exact opposite. Respondents agreed that what’s most important to Gen Z is: “We want to work for our success, not be discovered.”

This new generation of employees is looking for leaders who will guide them to success -- not hand it over. In Taylor’s case, she wasn’t just looking for someone to believe in her and then let her move on. Instead, she wanted Matthew to continue communicating and guiding her through her career.

What leaders can do: Sit down with your Gen Z employees and help them set up a list of goals they’d like to achieve within the next quarter or year.

Show them actionable steps to achieve the first goal. Meeting with them frequently to check in on their progress will keep employee communication lines open and strong. After one goal is accomplished, move on to the steps to achieve a new goal.  

Let them in on diversity and inclusion efforts

Gen Z employees are extremely passionate about causes, especially diversity and inclusion. In fact, second of importance on the previously mentioned study is: “We believe that equality is non-negotiable.”

What leaders can do: Be transparent about your company’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Communicate your own plans, but also set up monthly meetings with your team. Gen Z is living non-negotiable equality out in their daily lives, and they expect nothing less from their workplace.

Creating an environment where these values can be heightened, rather than hindered, will help this group of employees contribute to a bigger and better working culture. Here, they can freely express their own questions, concerns, recognitions, and ideas for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Keep communication flowing

Just like with Matthew and Taylor, if you shut employee communication down -- even with the best intentions -- you’ll lose Gen Z’s interest. This generation wants to be kept in the loop and have the ability to speak up about their own careers.

What leaders can do: Make ongoing communication part of your company culture to create an environment where all employees can safely discuss issues, open up about their own ideas, and communicate effectively with peers, managers, and clients.

The most important thing to remember: everyone is different, even if they are all lumped into the same generation. Leaders need to figure out what form of employee communication each person responds best to and prefers. Never be afraid to alter your employee communication plan as things change and employees give you differing feedback.

Topics: employee experience, employee communication, Gen Z

Human Resources Today