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3 insights into how Gen Z manages people

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It’s a tale as old as time: A new generation comes into maturity and starts making advances, so the generations before them kick up a fuss. They didn’t have to walk uphill both ways in the snow, they didn’t have to rely on carrier pigeon to communicate and, more recently, many don’t have to do long commutes. How can they know what hard work really is?

The same is happening to Gen Z workers now as they start taking on leadership roles. And while they are different from older workers — as every generation is from the one before them — that doesn’t mean they’re bad workers, one new Culture Amp report warns. Different? Maybe. But certainly not worse.

“We’re seeing interesting differences in the younger generation versus this rhetoric,” Sana Lall-Trail, senior data journalist with Culture Amp, told HR Dive.

In a recent “Myth-busting the experiences of Gen Z managers” report, Culture Amp looked at customer data to see what’s really going on with Gen Z managers and workers. They found some myth-busting, and surprising, results.

Gen Z is good at communication

Being digital natives has not negatively impacted Gen Z’s communication skills; nor has spending some of their formative years learning and working remotely instead of in person, according to the report. In fact, Culture Amp found that 81% of direct reports agreed that their Gen Z managers are good at giving useful feedback on how they are performing.

Culture Amp also found that 59% of direct reports of Gen Z managers believed that when someone is not delivering on their role, something is done about it. That’s 7% higher than direct reports of managers between the ages of 35 and 44, and 11% higher than those whose managers were older than 45.

“Gen Z managers are best at being able to offer constructive feedback, even if this is a skill that’s uncomfortable for most people in the workplace,” Lall-Trail said.

Gen Z is motivated but leaders need more support

While it’s easy for an older generation to paint a younger one as lazy, that’s not the case with Gen Z, though there is a motivation difference between managers and their direct reports in that age bracket.

Culture Amp found that 67% to 69% of managers 25 to 64 years old agreed that their company motivates them to go beyond what they would in a similar role somewhere else. In comparison, that number falls to 62% when just asking Gen Z managers.

The report also found that 71% of Gen Z direct reports agreed with the same statement, which is higher than any other direct report age group.

These differences could be due to a few factors, Culture Amp said. Gen Z managers are most likely in their first leadership role since they are early in their careers, the report said. And being a new manager isn’t always easy; first-time managers experience a drop in positivity about how they feel about their companies when promoted, Culture Amp noted.

These findings indicate that Gen Z managers may need more support, Lall-Trail said. HR can focus on what motivates this generation, such as demonstrating a dedication to the people at the company and communicating how the company is doing overall.

Gen Z seeks transparency

In a surprising result, Lall-Trail found that “open and honest communication” was one of the top five drivers for Gen Z managers. The surprise wasn’t so much that this is a driver, but a big difference between Gen Z and other age groups. For everyone else, “open and honest communication” didn’t show up in their top 15.

“Not only was transparency a key driver but it was a unique driver,” she said. She doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon. Instead, this focus will push the need for transparency and communication within organizations and may fundamentally change how the business operates.

Not only is transparency a great energizer for Gen Z managers, but it can also set a company apart when it comes to recruitment, especially as Gen Z continues to make up more and more of the workforce.

“It’s important to use that to leverage and attract Gen Z talent, from a strengths perspective,” she said.

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