Millennials have had the spotlight shining on them for a very long time and for good reason. They make up the majority of today’s business force and now are starting to take on management and executive positions within their companies. Now, however, they are going to have to take on one more, vitally important, role: Leaders for Gen Z and it’s not going to be a walk in the park.
Gen Z is the generation of the fast paced, ever changing, digital world, born between the mid-1990s and late 2000s. They have already made a significant dent in the population, making up 25.9% just within America and when they graduate college between the years of 2018 and 2020, they are going to take over business with their own ideas of how things get done.
You’re probably already working with a member of Gen Z: That intern from the middle of nowhere you hired to help her/him gain some experience is mostly likely a member of this new generation and they may not even know it. Now is your chance to start getting to know the generation you will undoubtedly be hiring soon and find out what makes them tick. Because yes, even though the age gap between Millennials and the oldest Gen Zers may only be a few years, those few years are riddled in differences between learning styles.
The 5 Commandments on Gen Z Learning:
- They Need Fast Paced Visuals.
The first thing you need to know about Gen Z is that their brains are wired differently than Millennials and it’s more than genetics. Think about it: The average Gen Zer has at least 5 pieces of technology on them at any given point of the day and they have had this connection to technology since their developmental years. The part of their brain that responds to is better and faster with complex, stimulating graphics than any previous generation. This is important to note because it means you’ll need to conduct your training through hands-on learning or bite-sized media if you expect it to resonate with them. If you don’t, expect them to clock out mentally about 5 minutes into traditional training.
- Give Them Learning When They Want It.
Gen Z is the generation of instant gratification and, I mean it, they want what they want NOW. This means that they will need access to learning 24/7 via the internet. Going to a printable library, or even digital library, where they have to sort through various learning methods is not going to fly with a generation who has an internet attention span of 8 seconds. If it’s not immediately accessible, they’ll just hop onto YouTube and find millions of alternative options.
- Allow Them Space to Grow On Their Own.
While they may be young, Gen Z is already exhibiting high independence and leadership capabilities with 75% saying that they hope to run their own businesses in the future. Keeping this in mind, Gen Zers need to be allowed to make their own decisions and experience business through trial and error, constantly learning from their own mistakes.
- Make Them Feel Comfortable But Give Them Space.
Gen Zers need to feel welcome and comfortable to ask questions in the learning process. Unlike Millennials, they don’t look to mentors for advice in decision making, yet they still value the opinion of those wiser and more experienced. Just don’t expect them to take your word as gospel even if you are an industry professional as they will ultimately look to many sources and in the end, go down their own path, even if they have to double back at some point.
- Creativity And Collaboration Is Key.
Give Gen Zers creative learning solutions and help them to collaborate with others in a creative space. They crave this type of learning and interaction, which will help them respond to what you want them to know. If you let them out of the normal industry box every once in awhile, they will feel free to look for better, unique ways to solve problems.
Lastly: Treat Gen Zers like professionals because that’s what they already are. They have had a world of wisdom at their fingertips since day one and they’re prepped and ready to take everyone by storm.
Author Bio: Hannah Kwapisz is junior at Hillsdale College where she studies Marketing/Management along with Graphic Design.