Over one hundred million people make up millennials and Generation Z.
How do we motivate these young people? How do we unleash the power of these new generations?
Mark Perna is an author, CEO and generational expert. His new book Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations, is designed to help leaders awaken the potential of the Why Generation. I recently had the opportunity to ask him about his research and new book.
McGraw-Hill Education found that only 20 per cent of college students feel “very prepared” to enter the workforce.
The Why Generation
What is the Why Generation? What qualities and traits distinguish it?
The Why Generation is my term for Generations Y and Z, which include basically everyone under 40 today. Collectively, I call them the Why Generation because they want to know the reason behind everything. And this is exactly how we reared them. A lot of older-generation folks in management roles often perceive this as disrespect or insubordination, but it’s actually not. Young people want to know the reason why so that they can fully understand what they are being asked to do, and even more than that, so they can see if there is a way they can improve the process. They want to bring their own unique, special, and important contribution to the success of the plan, whatever it may be. They want to be engaged; they want their work to be relevant and mean something. They are not being rebellious when they ask why; they really want to know. They want purpose, and they will perform to the expectations we set for them (whether high or low). We have to answer the big question they are always asking in one way or another: why?
They place great importance on their personal values, which are often characterized by social and environmental activism. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and once they buy into a cause, they’re committed. Every decision they make is influenced to some extent by how it affects their desired lifestyle.
They’ve brought a fresh perspective to the working world. Both the Millennials and Generation Z want their work to be about more than the paycheck. They prioritize a flexible working environment that allows them to work from home and/or work nontraditional hours, and many companies are taking these preferences into consideration. They also want to rethink the ways things have always been done to create new processes to complete the work more efficiently.
They’re also digital natives who have grown up surrounded by technology. It’s their norm to have multiple screens going as they maximize their digital experience. Because they believe they’re unique, special, and important, they are constantly looking for ways to tell their story on the vast array of social media options. They also communicate differently, much more briefly than older folks are used to.
Only 11 per cent of business leaders perceive college graduates to be ready for work, according to a recent Gallup poll.
In what ways can we realize the full potential of the Why Generation?