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From Dylan to TikTok: Evolving Leadership for the GenZ Wave

As Bob Dylan famously said, "the times they are a changin'". This couldn’t be truer as we see the new generation step into the workforce. Growing up in the digital age, becoming masters of technology much younger than previous generations, and having their entire lives lived on social media, along with the Pandemic shaping their college careers; GenZ is ready to step in and redefine the workplace on their own terms.

Gone are the days of people coming into a business, nose to the grindstone, and wanting nothing more than career advancement. GenZ wants more out of life. Whether it's more work-life balance, experiencing new industries on their terms, or wanting to break the norm of the traditional career path; GenZ is here, and they want what they want (and in the days of instant gratification - they want it NOW!).

The bigger question posed is: how do managers of older generations (as a millennial, it pains me to now be in that category, but such is life) get them focused and productive while keeping them engaged, entertained, and committed to a company's mission that was set in stone well before they walked across the graduation stage, let alone into your office for their first-day orientation?

Meeting with other leaders in the staffing industry at the SIA Exec Forum earlier this month, it seems to be a hot topic not only for staffing but for any industry. I won't bombard you with the same "no one wants to work," "loyalty to companies is gone," or "they want everything given to them" adages, while some of those may seem true, there is a different approach we should be taking.

I’ve had the opportunity to manage some of the most talented and productive GenZ talent in staffing. The drive is there, but we must channel their uniqueness and let them fly as they want. I promise the returns are there if you invest the time diligently AND with true intentions.

Here are three actions leaders must take to captivate GenZ and cultivate a winning culture:

1. Channel their uniqueness:

We can't manage anymore with the same old playbook. We have to find what makes each personality on our team tick. I urge you to take a genuine interest in your GenZ employees - not just from a professional standpoint but more importantly, what drives them personally. Jack Welch, former GE CEO, famously said,

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

This is truer now than ever. We as leaders must be open to change and hearing other perspectives, or else we’re all out of a job! Don’t let this take away from your efforts with your more tenured staff, but rather integrate it so that the team, regardless of tenure or age, are all moving forward in the same direction—THE WINNING DIRECTION.

2. Invest time diligently:

Take time out of your hectic day to give them the support they need to be successful, in business and life. Go beyond the standard onboarding and gain a personal connection with each individual. At Butler Street, we say,

“your learning curve is your earning curve.”

Invest time early and often, be a champion for them, and give them the tools to be successful.

3. Listen:

GenZ, if nothing else, is vocal about what they want! Don’t shy away from their ideas or pigeonhole them into the old way of thinking. Make sure you are actively listening (2 ears, 1 mouth) to your younger employees and taking what they have to say to heart. The one-size-fits-all model is out the window. Take what they have to say to heart and implement the good ideas into your business while refining the less-than-perfect ones. The managers and companies that take the time to listen and implement will see much better results than those who stick to the “this is how we have always done things here” mentality.

At Butler Street, we are prepared to help you. Whether your organization needs to re-energize leadership or upskill talent, we have a program to take your leadership and GenZ talent to the next level! Every company is going to be hiring these individuals, but not every company is equipped to make them successful. Do your research, invest in training, and champion them. If you don’t, the end is near!


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