This Is Causing Generation Z to Be the Most Distinct Generation Ever
These two factors are shaping Generation Z in unprecedented ways and may usher in a new era of generations.
In the past, generations were defined by a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor which typically spanned 15-20 years. Today, generations are formed by significant events, innovations, or culture shifts during the moldable years of an age cohort.
Generations are clues, not absolutes.
Because of how disruptive technology has become and how fast the world is changing, generational spans are likely to shrink to five to ten years.
This explains the growing popularity behind the term “Xennials,” the micro-generation of people on the cusp of Generation X and Millennials, that are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. In addition, many believe—myself included—that Millennials (born between 1981-1997) could be split into two generations making their generational span eight years.
Technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping generations.
A generation who came of age during the superabundance of smartphones is likely to have different preferences and tendencies than someone who comes of age ten years later during the proliferation of artificial intelligence and blockchain.
Soon organizations will be faced with hiring, working, and leading across a greater number of different generations than ever seen before.
Generation Z will be the first glimpse into this new era of generations.
2 Things Causing Generation Z to Be so Different
1. Increased Influences
In the not too distant past, generations were only exposed to what happened in their small tribes or communities. The weather, landscapes, sources of food (rivers, vegetation, etc.), and the modest number of family and friends within the tribe were the only things influencing human behavior.
Limited influences, constricted information flow, and slow-changing surroundings ensured previous generations’ values, expectations, and behaviors remained relatively unchanged for decades.
Today, something can happen halfway across the world and current generations are exposed to it instantly. Smartphones and endless news feeds expose people to significant events, ideas, and innovations at a frequency never before experienced.
The 44 percent of the world’s population who are active on social media or the 35 million songs on Spotify or the over 540,000 podcasts or the 65 billion daily WhatsApp messages or the 948 million hours of streamed content on Twitch (in January 2019 alone) can now influence Generation Z’s values, expectations, and behaviors.
Thus making Generation Z wildly different than previous generations.
2. Abundant Access
Technology and the Internet have made the entire world accessible. Access to information, people, opportunities, capital, tools, etc. is abundant and changing how Generation Z works, learns, travels, buys, communicates, and more.
Abundant access shaped Millennials and is shaping Generation Z as they continue to come of age. Read this to learn more.
Examples of How Different Generation Z Behaviors Are
Here’s how increased influences and abundant access is changing the preferences and behaviors of Generation Z.
- The top platform Generation Z uses to learn about an employer is YouTube.
- Generation Z is more likely than previous generations to choose a city before a job.
- Sixty-three percent of the emerging generations are interested in vacationing in outer space.
- Sixty-two percent of Generation Z would choose no college degree and unlimited Internet access over a college degree and no Internet access.
- Seventy-two percent of Generation Z believe that everyone will have their own personalized digital assistant (Siri, Alexa, etc.) to help them do everything they need to do online.
As truncated and diverse new generations begin rising every five to ten years (instead of every 15-20 years) and begin to exhibit new behaviors, older generations will assimilate those behaviors faster than ever before.
For example, online chat, texting, social media, and emojis were first adopted by younger generations and are now society mainstays across generations.
6 Tactics for Effectively Leading a Remote Workforce
1. Set Clear Expectations
Remote work is usually less structured than non-remote work, therefore clear expectations are critical. Clearly outline the expectations and then offer the necessary autonomy and trust for the team to execute.
- Mission and vision
- Yearly, monthly, and weekly goals
- Hours of operation
- Available resources and tools
- Preferred communication methods, channels, and timing
- Contact into and guidelines for support
- Project and/or task ownership
- Team availability (when, where, and how to be reached)
2. Connect Consistently
A lack of consistent connection, can leave remote workers feeling isolated and disconnected from the organization’s goals and mission.
- Schedule routine virtual meetings.
- Designate a specific time (daily, weekly or monthly) where the entire team is online at the same time allowing for quick collaboration or help if needed.
- Consider an “open status policy” (similar to an “open door policy”) where your online status (busy, away, available, etc.) is accurate so that remote workers know when they can connect with you.
3. Choose the Right Channel
Today’s workers have gotten fairly good at blending digital and non-digital communications in non-remote working environments. However, in a fully remote working environment, all communications are digital and a new set of rules, know-how, and abilities are needed.
When communicating with remote workers, ensure your intended message aligns with the appropriate channel. Here is a quick overview on how to use today’s primary communication channels.
- Phone: long, detailed, difficult, and/or emotional conversations
- Email: objective and brief information.
- Chat: informal messages, general announcements, news, quick team collaborating, and socializing.
- Video (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc.): focused, long, feedback-rich, emotional or difficult conversations.
4. Communicate Transparently
When communicating with a remote team, transparency is paramount. A remote team is able to be more productive and autonomous when they are well informed.
To allow a remote team to function smoothly as a single unit, make information transparent from the sense of being easily accessible and readily available by using file-sharing services like Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.
5. Track Proactively
The ability to track and measure progress is empowering to any worker, and it’s no different for remote workers. However, the tools used to track progress for remote teams can be different. Consider time tracking, task management, and/or activity tracking tools to review what the team and individuals are accomplishing.
- Hubstaff or When I Work are time tracking tools.
- Asana is a cloud-based task and project management tool.
- Monday.com is a work operating system that powers teams to run processes, workflows, and projects in once digital workspace.
- Trello helps to organize and prioritize projects and track progress.
- IDoneThis<span “=””> helps remote workers aggregate their daily activity into a single report.
6. Monitor Well-Being
Setting boundaries between personal and work can be challenging for remote workers. The new independence of a remote worker leading to laziness and low performance can be very top of mind for managers.
“The greater danger is for [remote] employees to overwork themselves and burn out. It’s the manager’s responsibility to guard against this outcome,” says David Hansson, New York Times Bestselling author of Remote: Office Not Required, says,
Help employees take the appropriate time for themselves and maintain work-life balance by utilizing tools like OfficeVibe, CultureAmp, and TINYpulse which can effectively monitor employee morale and engagement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Jenkins is an internationally-recognized keynote speaker and author on the topics of leadership, generational differences, and the future of work. He is the co-founder of SyncLX, which creates lasting learning experiences for companies’ #1 asset, their people.
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