It seems when the topic of generations comes up in our leadership classes it all revolves around Gen Y (or Millennials). That age group that is among the youngest in the workforce and seems to be the most challenging for Baby Boomers and Gen X’s to understand. I have a strong sense that sooner rather than later the tables will turn and it will be the Gen Y’s ripping their hair out over the Baby Boomers and Gen X’s. We shall see! In the meantime, the up and comers are Gen Z.
This week we have had the opportunity to work with a group of Gen Z’s. Generation Z ranges in age (at the time of writing) from 1 to 21, but the group we are working with range in age from 9-13 and are offering us a glimpse of what is to come. The forecast, at least in my opinion, is looking good! These littlest of leaders among us are bright and interested in life, in learning and in leadership.
On the topic of communication, specifically non verbal and verbal communication, not much changes in verbal. Some are good at eye contact and listening, others not so much. It was the non verbal communication that provided some interesting insight. This generation uses some form of electronic texting as their non verbal communication the majority of the time. They have a language that is even more fluent than that of Gen Y’s. Across the class, across differing levels of education and even across differing cultures these Z’s understood how to communicate with minimal misunderstandings. We didn’t leave out other non verbals such as body gestures, eye rolling, tapping fingers, etc., and again they didn’t disappoint. Our group seems to have a firm grasp on the importance of being aware of these non verbals as well. This could be because they have been raised in a world that is becoming predominately non verbal.
Expect great things from this group! They are full of ideas. They are quite impressive with critical thinking, and did as good a job in this area as many of our adult classes!! Our group is not suffering in the area of lofty goals either. At their young ages they are looking toward their futures – some in the next few weeks and some already considering what they will be when they “grow up” and how they can make a difference in the world. What a refreshing week we’ve had!!
So, as you welcome the older Gen Z’s into your work world, be a leader to them, a teammate, a mentor, be someone they can count on to continue their growth. Be open to their ideas and their excitement. They have as much to teach us as we have to teach them. Be ready for their goals – they have them and they are ready to get to work! Be prepared for energy and thinkers, they certainly impressed us this week!