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!