Generation Z and Leadership is an important topic to discuss, as Generation Z is the first generation to grow up in the Smart Phone era.
How will educators, managers, and leaders adapt their communication styles to connect with the younger generation?
I was interviewing Dr. Elizabeth Pogge while preparing for my upcoming virtual presentation for a national preceptors pharmacy conference. A preceptor is a teacher or an instructor.
Dr. Elizabeth Pogge is also a gen Xer, like me. She pointed out how being a preceptor has changed and how the new learner, Generation Z, and Leadership has changed.
Dr. Elizabeth Pogge stated:
“When I was a resident and a student, one of the learning methods was the no intimidation type of learning tactic. You would stand up and you give a presentation. Your preceptor then would grill you. They’ll ask you all these questions. Students today do not respond well to that. They will shut down, get very upset, even angry. They feel like they’re getting attacked. That kind of a learning tactic doesn’t work well for students now. Being harsh or abrasive is very difficult for students to handle now. They need to be nurtured right now.”
During my interview with her, she shed some light on what it’s like to be a preceptor. What I loved the most was that she compared her experience as a student to the students of today. When she was a student, you stood up in front of the room, gave a presentation and your preceptor peppered you with questions. She called it ‘an intimidation technique’. You didn’t want to fail for fear of the reprisal from the preceptor.
She made the point that the approach would not work with students today, because they would shut down, get angry, and disconnect.
When we talk about students of today, we’re really talking about the Generation Z. These are people born between 1997 and 2012. This generation is nothing like the millennials! It’s an entirely different generation.
The biggest difference is that Generation Z is the first generation to truly grow up in the smartphone era. Yes, millennials had smartphones too. In fact, they showed us how to use our smartphones. But millennials may also remember things like DVD players, dial-up, etc.
Generation Z grew up in the smartphone era. They may have never held a textbook. They had streaming services, so they never had to wait for a DVD at a Blockbuster. Many of them grew up with a smart home.
How Does This Impact You as a Leader or as a Manager?
When Generation Z comes on board, you no longer are the assumed expert. It’s no longer the assumption that just because you’re the manager, my preceptor, my teacher, my instructor, or my supervisor, that does not mean you are necessarily the expert.
Generation Z and Leadership has changed.
Who’s the expert?
This is the first generation to truly perceive the internet as an expert. Does that mean you can’t tell a Generation Z what to do? Of course, you can. All of us need to be told what to do, especially when we’re doing something we’ve never done before. Millennials told us what to do when we were trying to figure out our smartphones.
How to Lead Generation Z
There are some situations where we do tell people what to do, especially if they have never done it before. But when it comes to moving beyond those basic skills, it becomes more of a coaching exercise with Generation Z, versus a telling exercise. This means that you’re going to put a priority over inquisitiveness and curiosity, versus telling someone.
The second thing you want to do is give timely feedback. For Generation Z that timely feedback is vital. so for example we’ll go back to the preceptor examples Dr. Pogge said: “My students know that as soon as our rounds are done, I’m going to give them feedback. I’ve told them that from the beginning, so they will be expecting it!“
Do You Have to Coddle Generation Z?
Not at all! It is the end goal that we help people develop to be the best that they can be. To come to work prepared and ready. If we have to change our approach to make that successful, why is that mad?
Next week, we’ll continue to investigate the incredible generations we work with, live with, interact with and talk to every day.