By Danniella Banks
After attending last week’s Diversity Roundtable of Central Indiana meeting entitled, “Communicating Across Generations,” I was left with a bad taste in my mouth because of the way that my generation is being portrayed. Yes, I am a member of Gen Z, which are those born from 1990-1999. If you’ve noticed the attention that my generation has been getting lately, you probably think that I am lazy, only care about myself and that I am addicted to social media. Well folks, I would have to say that there is more to me, and my generation, than what meets the eye.
In our short lifetime, we have seen many tragedies that have shaped our view of the world, such as 9/11 and the 2008 economic collapse. These two events, among others, have greatly shaped our view of the world, according to Bruce Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking and author. Because of the events that we have witnessed, we tend to have a more fearful view of the world, which means that we have different needs than previous generations.
While research is still ongoing for the characteristics of Gen Z , Tulgan has provided some information on how Gen Z will function in the workplace. The first is that we will need a leadership style that is more teaching based. We want to learn, which means that we need to be taught. We want our bosses and managers to take the time to teach us how certain aspects of the company we work for function so that we can better understand why we are doing what we are asked to do.
Second, we enjoy using social media, and we want to find ways to use it in the workplace. Some members of Gen Z will have careers in managing social media, along with other tasks important to the company. Few members of previous generations have wanted this opportunity, so we step in. Some scholars, such as Tulgan, also believe that we want to use social media to communicate in the workplace. While this may be true for some, I think that after more research this ideology may go by the wayside.
Third, we will almost always ask, “why?” While this may frustrate the managers that we work for, this is something that has been engrained in us since we were small children. We have always been urged to learn the why of nearly everything that we do. This will not change when we become employees in a company.
These three things are important to the way Generation Z functions in the workplace. By understanding these three things about Gen Z, members of other generations may realize that we are only misunderstood, and that we will eventually find our place just like they did.
Danniella Banks is the Sales and Marketing Specialist of the Society for Diversity, the #1 largest professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto http://www.societyfordiversity.org.