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HIRING

Gen Z: Avoid crucial mistakes when managing them

By Lynne Curry

Question: We’re hiring a group of young office interns this summer for a special project and are trying to figure out the best team member to supervise them. We’re thinking someone as close in age to them as possible. Your thoughts?

Answer:

You’re hiring Gen Z workers, individuals born after 1995. The oldest Gen Z workers are 27, and while similar to Gen Y employees are as different from Gen Y workers as Gen Y employees are from Gen Xers. It surprises many that Gen X managers fare worse when managing Gen Y employees than do Baby Boomer managers, those born prior to 1964. Thus, don’t let age be your deciding factor.

Gen Zers crave independence and consider themselves self-directed, even if they aren’t. It’s easy to over-manage them, and the individual you select will strike out if he or she traditionally supervises them. Gen Zers live online and expect instant access to mountains of data about any topic that interests them. They prefer texting to conversing and crave immediate answers and feedback.

Gen Zers grew up in a world shaped by 9/11 and the War on Terror. They doubt the American Dream exists, so “all this and more can be yours someday if you pay your dues” statements won’t work. Your best bet—find an individual who can fulfill the role of a job coach who gets to know your interns and inspires them to do their best without using platitudes they consider preaching.

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