Successful leaders always carry special feelings for their subordinates, they also continuously look for new ways to evolve their managerial capabilities.
Let’s compare the differences between what job meant to people decades ago vs nowadays and learn what modern times talents, especially when managed remotely, expect from their managers to keep themselves inspired on a daily basis.
My notes taken while managing and advising startups at different stages (typically 10–100 headcount) are grouped into 2 clusters. The first enlists observations regarding the general perception and trends, the second is specifically dedicated to work-related attitudes and habits.
Youngsters (think they) know everything
The information explosion and world openness catered to Gen Z everything too much, too soon. Tasting from every possible experience, they grew as natural-born multi-disciplinary experts, swiping through news websites, social networks and online tutorials. Last-minute news, general knowledge and once forbidden subjects (e.g. sex, substances, rock-n-roll — you name it) — the interests spectrum is broad. On top of that, every public or personal news item is immediately processed and socially validated in public and private chats.
Actionable tip: they are all smart-asses (in a good way) therefore intellectual conversations are expected and welcomed. Yet, keep the talk respectful mindfully checking ahead of approaching subjects that are sensitive or too personal. You might be communicating with not solely a concrete individual, but rather to his/her social squads all at once.
Born to swipe
Learning about the world in a non-interactive way (as in real-life human-to-human interactions) through online stories and videos has its drawbacks: the knowledge is unstructured and the terminology might appear flaky due to the information consumption habits. Unlike in an offline university class with a charismatic lecturer (like those from the oldskool movies), the truth-seeking thought process might be impermanent and there is no profound well-argued dialog aimed to nail the truth.
Actionable tip: exercise patience and expect natural gaps when discussing deep (professional) subjects.
Change is the only constant
It’s all easy nowadays: traveling as digital nomads, meeting friends/partners and finding a (seemingly) dream job. The price of taking the wrong direction is frequently minimized as new opportunities arise all the time.
Actionable tip: don’t expect their loyalty by default, earn it.
Memes and for all
“Three men walk into a bar…” Memes had completely replaced anecdotes. They virally become lingua franca. They are resource-savvy. They are deep.
Lifehack: punchlines from some old anecdotes were already converted to memes. Look for references.
Fun is the primary currency
Something that more mature generations should learn a long ago: we all work to live, not the other way around (recently lots of people made their right choice working from tropical islands). Fun is among the most important motivation drivers. Indeed, personal development is much expected yet among many ways to reach enlightenment the road that does not involve suffering is strongly preferred. Money will follow anyways (or so they believe). Whenever the minimum fun threshold breaks for a time long enough, the loyalty will crack and the quest for a dream job will be continued.
Actionable tip: remove the mental roadblocks, let the creative powers explode, make all the rainbows bright and vivid, keep fun at all costs and rely heavily on positive reinforcement. After all, you’re not inspired seeing a grumpy manager in the mirror, are you?
Fast and intuitive
Information is blinking from all the screens: from mobile phones to billboards. Attention span lasts seconds as the longest, information processing and reasoning should be fast and intuitive. The things remembered from every discussion might be limited therefore the steps aimed to hit the planned target might not always be optimal.
Actionable tip: experiment with various psyche archetypes theories, find the way to talk to your subordinates capturing the lion part of their attention.
Actionable tip: Summarizing the meeting notes into short bullet points will help big time to make things happen the proper way without some of them being “opted out”. Keep the communication interactive and ask understanding questions to ensure your message was received properly. Gradually, delegate the note-taking process to them (I found using Kanban task boards like Ora or Kanbanize very useful, asking my employees to open tasks as we speak and review the board at the end of every sync meeting). Setting the proper standard is important and they learn fast.
Cut to the chase
Remember information overflow and a short attention span? Practical applications of everything just learned are highly praised.
Actionable tip: try to avoid seemingly unattached theories and show what’s in there for them and the company.
“When can you make it?” “Probably not today” They always try to cut sharp corners, taking redundant responsibility. The answers might be vague, giving some hope, but not really committing.
Actionable tip: help to plan in well-defined steps to achieve the goal and communicate the definition of done clearly, preferably in a written way. Be supportive and softly but firmly, align on expected scope, deadlines or outcomes — the estimations will improve asл time goes by. Ah, and trust their “inner executor”: surprising results will appear in a non-linear way.
Creating a cooperative highly efficient “army” of like-minded individuals takes time and requires a lot of creativity along the road. There is no silver bullet and when something goes off big time — do whatever you think is the best, including hard measures taken.
Having said that, I believe that the guidelines and tips, mentioned above will be beneficial for the overall mental climate and your teams’ productivity and enthusiasm. Also, I think that these nuances are worth adopting no matter which age are you. We all want to have fun and prosper, right?