I made this joke on Twitter recently:
This has been a frustration of so many of my peers in Human Resources over the past couple of years. We have leaders, usually Gen X or Boomers, who think anyone younger than them are called “Millennials”. It’s uninformed at best, and just a bad look for leaders in our organizations.
The crazy part is it’s not just about getting the generational names correct, it’s also about how we tag a generation. I’m not a fan of “generational” training programs, but they are hugely popular. I get requests to come and talk about generational differences to organizations monthly, and I’ve never spoken about generational differences!
For some reason, we are fascinated by the concept of having multiple generations working together in the workplace. We want to know all the broad differences between the generations, knowing as soon as we throw out one of those stereotypes, we immediately look like idiots.
I’m particularly triggered by older leaders who feel Gen Z’s are just a bunch of kids you are entitled snowflakes on their phone all of the time. I’m this way because I have three Gen Z sons and see who they, and their friends, are becoming and in so many ways they will outshine my Gen X generation over the same period of time, by a mile!
CNN did an article highlighting four GenZs who are doing amazing things:
- One is teaching swimming to people with disabilities.
- One started a movement to cheer up kids going through difficult times.
- One is helping Vets in need.
- One is making and delivering “Blessing Bags” for the needy.
What all of these GenZ people have in common is what I see from my own GenZ connections. GenZ grew up during the Great Recession and saw what hard times do to people. In turn, that experienced shaped them into young people who want to help others, are willing to do the work to help others, and do it in a way that is modern and digital.
Yes, they are on their phones a lot. So, are we all. But, they use this digital world to do things a speed we could have never comprehended when we were their age. They are consuming information at a rate far exceeding every generation before them, which makes them better informed than most before them.
I wouldn’t call them entitled or snowflakes. They are not delicate or looking for a handout. They were raised in hard times and they are giving back as much as any before them. You might call me a fan of this generation. I have so much hope for what they will bring to the world. As a parent, I guess we probably all feel that way about our kids.
As we get ready to go into 2020, I would love to see all leaders embrace this growing younger workforce in a way that is positive and hopeful for the future. I think we are in good hands with GenZ!
No, you’re wrong. Gen z grew up with silver spoons in their mouths and lack of problem solving skills. The internet does it all for them. I wouldnt have a problem with them if they didn’t : destroy media with cancel culture; cry and pitch a fit over everything that offends them; act like complete failures at work, they can’t even take an order right 90% of the time; start fights by getting on their little tik toks and insulting other generations, hair styles and clothing. They’re complete morons. And you’re not gonna convince my generation otherwise. They start problems, we end them. I went to private school, and let me tell you, I would’ve danced circles around these kids if paired against them. We were doing things at half their age, successfully. I was flying planes at 7 years old. Until they can learn to write in cursive and act like adults, I will continue to view them as irrelevant, quantity not quality.
Lol it’s HR. The dumbest part of any organization. Then again generalizing massive portions of the population by birth years is pretty dumb too.
Both of my biological parents are part of the silent generation. (Pre-1943) yet I was born pre 1985 and would be considered a millennial based on definitions yet I my behaviors would align more with those found in grunge culture.
Tim Sackett – Spokesperson for GenZ!!!
Is generational science real or BS is an interesting question. Of course, nothing is all black or white. I mostly think of it as BS, but recognize that there are shared experiences for people growing up at a certain time that shape some of their world views. The part that is BS is when we label them as entitled, lazy or whatever the label is we apply. Most of those labels apply based on where in their lifecycle they are – in fact many of the generations before them had those same labels applied to them at that point in their life. And, if we blankly applied labels to any other grouping, it would be called stereotyping!!
On to your main point – is Gen Z amazing? Yeah – pretty amazing! I am blown away by what these kids have accomplished, how smart they are, and the emotional intelligence they have at a young age. I have high hopes for how they will run the world!
Bravo Tim! As a Dad with 4 rising young adult offspring, I agree wholeheartedly with your post. All stereotypes and especially generational stereotypes allow lazy people to form often times unwarranted and unfair opinions about others, and then judge them accordingly. (I am now currently being judged for using 2 spaces after a sentence!)
Technology has enabled us to be sorted by everything from what kind of milk we buy to what type of person we want to marry. Just because we can use data analytics to slice and dice us into small data piles for marketing initiatives doesn’t mean we should do so to judge others on the entirety of their existence. We are all human beings, no matter what generation we are from. I’ve seen spoiled and entitled people of all generations, and I’ve seen amazing acts of courage and service from people of all generations. What unites us should always be more important than what divides us. A house/country/company/non-profit organization/government/nation/ divided against itself (by generation, age, race, gender, etc.) will not stand. As we go in to 2020, let’s discontinue focusing on the ways that we are different and can be divided, and instead all focus on the good qualities that unite us all as people.
Generational differences DO matter – whether you speak on them or not. Our experiences as a generation shape the way we learn, think and have shared expectations. Are we still unique individuals? Yes! But do we have shared experiences that bind us together? ABSOLUTELY! For example, I find the way a member of the Greatest Generation can stretch a dollar to be absolutely fascinating! No recession can teach what the Great Depression taught. I’ve seen the independence that came from GenX learning to navigate the world on their own at a very young age, because for the first time, 2 parents had to work to make ends meet. Just as GenZ can and will continue to consume information at an epic rate, so too will the generation after them have a unique set of experiences shaping their world.
Recognize differences in people, appreciate shared experiences and value the niches each generation can bring to the table. It’s fascinating to listen to (hence the speaking requests) because we want to know more about what is different from us. Maybe you’ve missed several great opportunities to teach people and open minds?