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Managing Gen Z: 5 Ways to Lead the Generation That Challenges Everything

"Entitled." "Lazy." "Glued to their phones."


Gen Z gets a lot of labels. But the truth is, they're simply not afraid to challenge the status quo.


Yes, this tech-savvy, purpose-driven generation is shaking things up in the workplace. And that can make them a little... tough to manage.


But what if their different expectations, communication styles, and values were actually assets to your company?


Instead of seeing these differences as obstacles, what if you embraced them?


Gen Z's unique perspective can bring fresh ideas, spark innovation, and push your company to be better – if you know how to lead them effectively. Here's how:


1. Communication is key (but ditch the formal emails)

Gen Z is the generation of instant messaging, emojis, and memes. They value quick, direct, and authentic communication. Think less formal email, more real-time chat.


What to do:

  • Embrace digital tools. Slack, instant messaging, video conferencing – these are their preferred ways to communicate.

  • Keep it concise and to the point. Skip the long, formal emails and get straight to the point. They'll appreciate it.

  • Don’t be afraid to use emojis. This can lighten the mood and build rapport. (just make sure they’re appropriate for the context)


Example:

Instead of scheduling a formal meeting to discuss a project update, a manager uses a quick Slack huddle to get everyone on the same page. This saves time and keeps the energy high.


2. Feedback? Yes, please! (but make it frequent and specific)


Gen Z thrives on feedback. They want to know how they're doing, what they can improve, and how they can grow.


What to do:

  • Ditch the annual performance reviews. Give them regular feedback – weekly, bi-weekly, or even daily, if it makes sense.

  • Be specific and actionable. Don’t just say, "Good job." Tell them exactly what they did well and how they can improve.

  • Focus on their growth. Frame feedback as an opportunity to learn and develop, not just criticism.


Example:

A manager uses a project management tool to provide real-time feedback on tasks. Instead of waiting for a formal review, they give quick, specific comments on each task, acknowledging successes and suggesting areas for improvement.


3. Mentorship matters (but not the old-school kind)


Gen Z wants mentors who get them, support them, and are invested in their success—not just someone assigned to them because of their job title.


What to do:

  • Pair them with mentors who understand their values and challenges. Find people who can relate to their experiences and provide relevant guidance.

  • Encourage informal mentorship relationships. Coffee chats, virtual hangouts, and even casual conversations can be incredibly valuable.

  • Be a mentor yourself! Share your experiences, offer guidance, and show them you care about their growth.


Example:

A senior team member regularly invites a junior Gen Z member to grab coffee and chat about their career goals and challenges. This informal mentorship provides valuable support and guidance outside of formal settings.


4. Embrace their tech-savviness (and let them lead you)

Gen Z is incredibly tech-savvy. They’re digital natives who can help your company embrace new technologies and stay ahead of the curve. Don't underestimate their abilities!


What to do:

  • Give them opportunities to share their tech knowledge. Let them lead trainings, present new ideas, or help implement new tools.

  • Be open to learning from them. Don't be afraid to ask for their help or advice on tech-related matters. You might be surprised by what they know.


Example:

A company struggling to adopt a new project management software asks their Gen Z intern for help. The intern quickly masters the platform and creates a training guide for the rest of the team, becoming a valuable resource for the company.


Embrace Gen Z tech savviness and let them lead you - Kabel

5. Be purposeful (no more "just because")

Here's a truth bomb: Gen Z hates busywork. They're not motivated by "because I said so" or "that's just how it's done." They crave purpose. They want to know WHY their work matters, how it contributes to the bigger picture, and how it aligns with their values.


What to do:

  • Highlight the impact of the role. How does this job contribute to the team's success? To the company's goals? To a larger social mission?

  • Connect daily tasks to the big picture. Even seemingly small tasks can be meaningful if you explain the "why" behind them. Show them how their work fits into a larger strategy or contributes to a positive outcome.

  • Give them a voice. Gen Z wants to feel like they're part of something bigger. Involve them in decision-making processes, brainstorm solutions to challenges, and ask for their ideas.


Example:

Instead of saying, "Update these spreadsheets", say, "By updating these spreadsheets, you'll help us track our progress toward our sustainability goals, which will ultimately reduce our environmental footprint."


Final thoughts on managing Gen Z

Managing Gen Z isn't about forcing them to fit into an outdated mold. It's about adapting, listening, and creating a space where their voices are heard, their ideas are valued, and their energy can flourish.


Because here's the question every leader should be asking:


Are you ready to be challenged by the next generation?


Because if you are, they just might challenge you to become a better leader, build a better company, and create a better future of work for everyone.


Ready to unlock the potential of Gen Z? Check out Kabel, the AI-powered platform that helps you connect with the brightest young minds.


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