Young employees / Pexels

Teams are constantly changing, with more and more workplaces being filled with youthful teams bringing about completely new perspectives and ideas.

However, this also highlights the need for new approaches when it comes to leadership, given that Gen Z – the demographic cohort made up of people born in the mid-to-late 1990s until the early 2010s – is now becoming more prominent at the workplace.

This generation is characterised by tech-savviness and a desire to challenge the norm, yet it has also come under increased criticism for a lack of motivation and a feeling of entitlement, posing a challenge to business leaders in the 21st century.

Therefore, here are five ways that business leaders can tackle the obstacles that come with leading a young team, especially when there is a significant age gap.

1) Establish clear communication channels

Given that they were brought up in the digital age, younger generations tend to be more comfortable using technology effectively in the workplace.

Technology has become an integral part of the lives of millennials and Gen Z employees, and it is often heavily relied on in terms of information. As a result, it is crucial for companies to establish clear and appropriate communications channels with their teams.

This can be addressed by outlining the instances when face-to-face communication should be used, as well as those when technological means such as instant messaging and email might be more suitable.

Younger generations that have technology very much ingrained into their daily lives, might end up blurring the lines between what should and shouldn’t be acceptable in terms of communication channels, and so business leaders have to make it clear right from the very start.

2) Be ready to give regular feedback

Providing detailed feedback is crucial for employees, whatever the age. However, this is especially the case for younger workers.

Given their lack of experience, younger generations tend to rely more on feedback so that they can grow more as employees and know more clearly what is required of them.

Instead of relying on sporadic annual performance reviews, business leaders have to make it a point to provide their team with consistent feedback across the whole year, enabling them to learn more on the job and progress further.

3) Treat each employee as an individual

Employees should always be shown respect, whatever the age.

However, younger employees can very often be viewed negatively due to stereotypes, causing management to be dismissive. While there has been a tendency for millennials and Gen Z employees to be unmotivated or entitled, as previously mentioned, it is dangerous for business leaders to assume that this is immediately the case.

Each employee needs to viewed as an individual with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses, requiring mentorship and guidance in order to reach their full potential.

While younger generations might opt to challenge the status quo and ask various questions, business leaders cannot simply brush these off just because of their lack of experience. You never know, your most innovative thinkers might be the ones that are least experienced.

4) Give employees the chance to be flexible

Flexibility and an ideal work-life balance has been a subject of debate across the business world for the past few years, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Studies have shown that young people view flexibility as a necessity at the workplace, and this is slowly becoming implemented more and more, with further companies being willing to offer flexible hours and the chance to work from home.

Since they have been brought up in today’s bustling and hectic world, millennials and Gen Z employees are capable of spotting the dangers of burnout immediately, and place a healthy work-life balance as a priority.

5) Recognise and reward employee performance

Whether an employee is young or old, some form of appreciation for their work is always welcome. This is especially the case for younger workers, who tend to seek validation through recognition and reward.

Such recognition provides employees with personal fulfilment and also helps when it comes to boosting employee retention.

Employees seek appreciation from business leaders, whether it is just a simple email as a means of congratulations, or else as a paid reward. These acts show that they are valuable members of the team and go a long way to boosting employee satisfaction and engagement.

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