Lessons From a Gen-Z Facilitator
It is consistently jarring when, at some point during a training, one of our clients asks, “What do you recommend?” The question could be related to anything, from better understanding a PI profile to trying to figure out how a Gen Z brain ticks. I’m taken aback when I consider my role as expert and authority in front of the training room, especially when I know I’m closer in age to the children of some of our trainees rather than our trainees themselves. After a lifetime of learning from teachers and professors with years of experience, it’s an odd feeling to flip the script. Our clients’ experience, of course, lies in different areas – we have clients from a wide range of industries, and I’ve trained people in various stages of their professional careers. No one in that room, though, knows nearly as much about PI as I do.
Having expertise in one area while still learning so much in others is a tension I’ve been navigating since I’ve started facilitating. I deeply value the time I get to spend with our clients because I have the opportunity to learn so much about their worlds – how they operate, what challenges they’re facing, and what excites them. I’ve also learned more about this new dynamic between the different generations now working together. Here are some main takeaways that could help contributors of all ages.
1. Talk casually with your younger employees about sides of the business they won’t typically get to see.
The amount of learning that happens just by listening in on conversations around the office cannot be understated. In the training room, I’m able to learn from conversations clients are having with one another in small groups and pairs. This candid discussion gives me the tools I need not only to strengthen my knowledge, but also to help clients apply what they’ve been learning. Outside of the training room, some of the best PI insight I’ve gotten has come from striking up or joining in a conversation with my colleagues over lunch. Limiting the pressure to sound like you already have everything figured out (like in a more formal meeting setting) opens the door for younger contributors to ask more questions. Additionally, these more casual conversations will often move to parts of the business that people aren’t normally exposed to, further broadening their knowledge. This gives your younger employees the opportunity to learn, yes, but also the opportunity to start to see where they fit in with the bigger picture of the organization.
2. Ask your younger colleagues for their suggestions or ideas.
Showing the younger members of your team that you respect their insights is a massive confidence boost as they’re learning. It gives them the opportunity to not only challenge themselves, but also to think critically about the business in a way they may not have before. Plus, you’ll probably really like what they have to say. Seeking the opinions of your younger colleagues also gives you the opportunity to coach them. Leadership development is important at all levels, and providing these constructive opportunities will give your newest employees a strong start.
3. To my fellow Gen-Zers: trust your own intelligence.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are moments where I feel like I’ve gotten dumber since graduating in May of 2022. This is simply not the case for you or for me, and anyone we ask will tell us so. Joining a new environment where we have to learn new ways of doing and being is undoubtedly a challenge and shakes the foundation of what we thought we knew. I implore you to remember that you would not be in the position you are in right now if you couldn’t do it and do it well. We come to the workforce with a fresh perspective that many employers are excited to utilize. Your colleagues and bosses should give you the business and industry specific knowledge you need. Trust that you’re smart enough to not only execute, but to build upon what you’ve learned and take it to the next level.
As generational gaps seem to only widen, it’s essential we think critically about how to engage one another most effectively. Keeping the above in mind will help bridge the divide, ultimately helping Gen Z workers to show up as their best and drive the business results you have been looking for.
If you enjoyed reading this article from Client Success Specialist, Jordyn Blythe, check out “Here’s what you should be doing for your Gen Z workers.”