Generation Z professionals are an ever-growing presence in the modern workforce, and it’s fair to say that they operate differently from previous generations. Trends such as “lazy girl jobs” have given many more seasoned professionals a bad impression of Zoomers, with an incredible 74 percent of managers saying that Gen Z is the most challenging generation to work with. Those managers labeled young talent “easily distracted,” “easily offended,” and “unmotivated.”

These kinds of terms have given Gen Zers something of a bad reputation, with some professionals even declaring them unprepared to enter the workforce. But how fair are these judgments, and what can HR leaders do to make younger talent feel welcome and valued at work?

The truth is that most members of Generation Z are determined, ambitious, and driven. Some of them already work in key leadership positions, magnifying their influence and importance. It’s only a matter of time before more continue to move up the career ladder.

Undoubtedly, the future of your workforce is Gen Z—they’re on track to make up 30 percent of it by 2030—and HR leaders must embrace everything they have to offer. That means developing ways of helping them and their multi-generational colleagues succeed together so that they can enjoy successful careers in management and your business can take full advantage of their skills.

Identify Gen Z leaders’ strengths

The first thing HR leaders can do to give Gen Z managers a boost is to eliminate generational biases by looking at the facts. 

Zach Clayton, the CEO of digital marketing firm Three Ships, talks about a new approach to leadership in his book True North, Emerging Leader Edition: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace. Clayton advocates for a collaborative and supportive approach to professional development in contrast to more traditional management styles that favor power and control.

This new leadership style is proving more effective for managers of all generations: Today’s professionals are far more responsive to generous approaches to leadership rather than authoritative, domineering ones.

Generally speaking, Gen Z leaders use a collaborative, flexible style, leading through their commitment to helping others around them. These approaches are an integral part of the Gen Z leadership psyche.

The idea of servant leadership was a powerful theme in a survey of Gen Z talent. “Leading by example” was also emphasized in the research as a positive trait among another group of Gen Z professionals.

Young leaders are also committed to authenticity, acceptance, and inclusivity in their approach. They work to empower their teams and demonstrate adept communication skills—contrary to certain preconceptions. 

Typically, Gen Z leaders are dedicated to helping their team members succeed, identifying areas for improvement, and providing support and resources. With a strong ability to listen and express empathy, they can be particularly effective at building trust and connection with the people they lead. These traits give them everything they need to maximize the potential of their teams.

1. Motivate Gen Z with incentives that resonate

Maximizing the potential of Gen Z team members requires that HR leaders connect with their values and the things that truly matter to them. The same approach applies to Gen Z leaders, and it’s important to find targeted ways of motivating your managers with incentives that resonate.

For young leaders, it’s important to:

  • Emphasize work-life balance and flexibility at your company, supporting a healthy relationship with work and reducing the chances of burnout
  • Establish your DEI&B strategy as a cornerstone of your culture, not only to demonstrate your commitments but also to create an inclusive environment that makes the most of your people’s potential
  • Solidify your ESG programs and culture to help protect the planet and operate businesses in more considerate and sustainable ways

By focusing your HR efforts on these incentive areas, you’re more likely to keep your Gen Z talent engaged and committed, whether or not they are in a leadership role.

2. Provide more face-to-face leadership training and support

Developing Gen Z professionals to become exceptional leaders requires committed face-to-face training and support from HR.

It’s vital to provide a comprehensive support package for young and relatively inexperienced managers so they can learn, improve, and feel truly valued by your organization.

Any new leader will benefit from extensive feedback from an experienced mentor, open communication about challenges and their ongoing development, and access to leadership training programs.

Gen Z professionals, in particular, appreciate honesty and transparency, so be as open as you can about the situation at your company and their progress. It’s important to champion integrity and humility as you demonstrate your support for their professional development and create an environment where they can imagine spending many years with your company.

3. Trust your Gen Z leaders

Any effective leader deserves to feel trusted and respected by senior management and HR leadership—young leaders are no different.

Gen Z managers have a natural drive to succeed. Give them the space to deploy their critical thinking skills and personal connections to come up with solutions to the challenges they face. In today’s dynamic business world, it’s often more important to create an environment in which it’s safe for someone to try new ideas and learn rather than enforce an overly protective one that limits their freedom.

Consider establishing a close mentoring relationship for each Gen Z leader so they can talk through things in a supportive setting and figure out any problems. And remember that they’re quick learners—Gen Zers grew up with quickly evolving technology. They’re usually quick to understand new software and able to get other team members on board.

4. Lean into their entrepreneurial spirit

Zoomers are innovative and motivated. They aren’t afraid to operate in new ways, to come up with fresh ideas, or to make changes to long-standing processes.

This spirit can provide the evolution that a competitive company needs and help you stay ahead in your industry. Giving your Gen Z managers the platform to excel as independent leaders will help your business stay creative, drive customer loyalty, and improve your revenue.

Reward Gen Z successes with compensation and recognition, and they will lead your teams to new heights. When they don’t receive the acknowledgment and recognition they feel they deserve, their entrepreneurial spirit might push them to strike out on their own.

It’s time to tune in to Gen Z leadership

There’s no getting away from it: Gen Z leaders are the future of the modern workplace. Nurturing their talents now is the best way to take full advantage of their skills and abilities so you can harness their talent to support company goals.

It’s up to HR leaders to forge a path away from generalized preconceptions about Gen Z and embrace this generation’s innovative, pioneering character. By giving your young leaders the skills and resources they need to build their careers, you will increase their loyalty and build teams powered by a collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit.

Your empowered Gen Z leaders will champion their team members, deliver new ideas, and help move your business forward in an evolving world.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.