By: Michelle Berg
Admittedly my sample set of working with Gen Z has been small. Also. I’ll put it out there. I mostly think generational stereotypes are more harmful than helpful. So, take the click bait for what it’s worth. That said, this is a letter to Gen Z from, well, technically a millennial. I was after all, born in 1980 (which means….millennials are turning 40!!). I truly believe Gen Z has an opportunity to not be plagued with the same paint brush my generation has suffered through.
Here are a few tips I think that might help you grow in your career faster than your elders:
#1: I applaud your commitment to the community. I firmly believe you want to leave this world better than you found it. Don’t stop. Don’t give up. I worry we are becoming too apathetic but if you can continue to bring attention to inequities and injustices, do! Remember it’s not an all or nothing game. Think of it as a drip campaign. Your influence, however big or small, makes a difference in this world.
#2: That said, you can’t all be Instagram Influencers. You are the first generation to grow up with cell phones. You could hardly spell when Facebook started connecting high school sweet hearts and long-lost summer camp buddies. Instagram is an amazing tool to share your opinion, but my advice is to share your opinion(s) and life wisely. I fear the authenticity you fight for is being lost in the contrived / photoshopped pictures all in the name of a new ‘like’ or perhaps that big break of being actually paid for #ad placements. PS – if you have a career, remember who you are online could affect it. #nuffsaid
#3: Work ethic is a thing. Trust in the workplace is not given right out of the gate. Flexibility is real but it too is earned. You have to work hard. You have to have results. Honour your commitments. Stop figuring out how to game a system like you did your university marks. Effort is rewarded as long as there are results. Put in the time to learn and invest in yourself beyond the time spent in the office. Don’t wait for someone to hold your hand in your development. Work for the trust and you will earn the flexibility you desire.
#4: Pay attention to the details. The one thing I haven’t learned how to teach is “attention to detail”. But it is unequivocally the skill that is dying in the workplace. If you’re going to submit something, and say that it’s your best work, it better be your best work (which means you’ve used spell check at the very least!) Build in time for review and reflection. Speedy is not akin to sloppy.
#5: Practice receiving feedback rather than just giving it. One thing I’ve been extremely impressed with is how transparent Gen Z can be with their suggestions. But if millennials struggle with feedback, Gen Z seems to be on a whole new playing field. Go out of your way to ask for feedback and… ACTUALLY IMPLEMENT IT! Then, check in to see if your implementation is working. Most feedback you receive is not as simple as a checkbox. It’s continual growth. Don’t assume your first pivot is the right pivot. Life and more importantly work, is about innovating, failing, and then pivoting again.
#6: Your voice does matter. But use it wisely. My favourite problems have been solved by asking someone’s opinion who knows nothing about the situation. Bias is the enemy to new idea generation. But it does not mean your voice needs to be heard at every minute of every day. Oh…here’s one more thing: you haven’t earned the right to voice your opinion yet, so if you get the chance, please fully appreciate how special that is. The trick to getting your voice heard consistently? Demonstrate #3 on a regular basis!
I get it. I’m almost 40. What do I know? Definitely not everything. But I was the kid who was promoted quickly, given more opportunities than I could count by age 30 and now run a fairly successful business. And oh boy have I fucked up.
Here’s to giving you a few suggestions to get there a bit more gracefully than I did…
Wanting nothing but the best for Gen Z.
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