3 minute read

Treat Gen Z as collaborators, not competitors, to achieve generational compatibility

Each generation throws fresh opportunities and challenges to society, says professor MS Rao, the father of Soft Leadership. The latest, Gen Z or Centennials, is ready to enter the workplace. So what does this mean for organisations?

Generation Z

There are several generational cohorts globally based on years of birth and currently there are four generations in the workplace: the so-called Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, who are also referred to as Generation Y. The fifth generation (Gen Z or Centennials) is now entering the workplace.

It is difficult to predict how this cohort will take us to the next level the way we find it difficult to predict where  technology will take us to the next level. Each generation throws fresh opportunities and challenges to society. 

Who are Centennials?

Centennials are a demographic cohort where the people  were born between 1996 to 2010. Some literature outlines that they are the people born between 2000 to 2015. Since they were born during the rapid growth in technologies their mindset is unique, their skillset is advanced and their toolset is tech-native. They are also known as Zillennials. They treat email as formal and texting as casual.

Strengths of Centennials

There are several strengths of Centennials. They are smart and brilliant. They are tech-native and are equipped with the latest digital tools and technologies. They are screen-oriented and are more connected virtually than physically. They multitask and appreciate the feedback. They are motivated by money and can generate multiple sources of income. They emphasize work-life integration, unlike work-life balance by other generations, especially Millennials. They can overcome VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).

Concerns about Centennials

There are several concerns about Centennials. They are socially inept and are not experts in emotional intelligence, as they hardly interact with other people. They spend more time on social media and view and read online content. They are impatient to achieve their goals and objectives. They have a short attention span. They love to live in their own space. They are likely to get into depression, as they spend more time on social media and less time on physical interaction. They have a global mindset instead of a local mindset. Educational institutions must reinvent their curriculum accordingly to impart the right education and organizations must reinvent their cultures and policies accordingly to achieve organizational excellence and effectiveness.

Centennials and other generations

If Millennials are tech-savvy, Centennials are tech-native. Millennials love feedback like Centennials. Millennials look for compliments regarding their work as many as twelve to fourteen times a day. Baby boomers climbed the corporate ranks in a very different time and culture. They neither expected that level of feedback in their work nor do they feel compelled as managers to provide that to their millennial employees. Younger generations have begun to feel even more pressure to conform than other generations. Research shows that millennials are the most stressed-out generation. They lack risk tolerance when it comes to financial decisions and have less distress tolerance in the workplace. Because they worry about what others think of them more than other generations do, they're less likely to propose new ideas and speak up in meetings. Here are some tips to create generational compatibility. Avoid labeling. Be prepared to give feedback and take feedback. Give respect and take respect. Respect everyone, irrespective of their age, experience, skills and abilities. Respect failures and implore them not to repeat the mistakes.

The future of Centennials

Centennials are highly ambitious, practical and realistic, unlike other generations. They are optimistic and upbeat. They voice their views and opinions fearlessly on social media platforms. They are highly individualistic and appreciate financial independence. They will lead their lives better than their previous generations. They have clarity about their goals and are highly focused to accomplish them. They plan for their future thoroughly because they have access to abundant information. They pursue their passions; choose their careers wisely; build their personal brands consistently; purchase their homes through loans and enjoy their weekends regularly. Hence, their future is bright! However, Centennials must be frugal and save money for rainy days. They must achieve success with integrity. They must appreciate the fact that there is no short cut to success. They must adopt the philosophy of passion, patience, and persistence to achieve all-around success in their lives.

Treat Centennials as collaborators, not competitors

The older generations must treat Centennials as collaborators, not competitors. They must embrace the change and get along with Centennials to create generational compatibility. Presently Millennials are dominating in strength but in the future Centennials will dominate in strength and technology. Hence, get ready to adapt to technology; embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR), and invite Centennials wholeheartedly to achieve generational compatibility.

Professor MS Rao, pictured below, is the father of ‘soft leadership’ and founder of MSR leadership consultants. He is author of a number of books and has a vision to build one million students as global leaders by 2030

MS Rao headshot

Published 15 March 2023
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