As an educator at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, I have noticed that Generation Z has all the answers in the palm of their hand at all times. They are able to quickly check information presented to them because they are extremely resourceful with technology.
Generally defined as those born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, Gen Z has been exposed to technology in business models and communication throughout their lives. Gen Zs are accustomed to products and services being delivered to them immediately. They require transparency between all channels of business and want to be in the know about all that’s going on. They want to understand the value they’re going to receive when spending money on products and services.
And now, Gen Zs are beginning to graduate from high school and college and are rapidly infiltrating the workforce. So what does that mean for the insurance industry? What does that mean as an independent agency owner? What does it mean to millennial leaders? And how do we cultivate and lead one of the fastest-growing generations in our workforce?
Gen Z is challenging the workforce to think differently every day. As millennial leaders, we must listen and learn to understand their thought processes and motivations. As Gen Zs enter the workforce, they will demonstrate that they can take any task and provide answers from online research much faster than any other generation—even millennials. This means the rest of the workforce must adjust the way that we approach them with tasks.
Millennial agency leaders must lead in a way that makes Gen Zs feel as if they’re being coached, rather than told, empowering them to take on tasks on their own and proving we trust in their ability to achieve results. There will be many coachable moments along the way, and it is important to understand the Gen Z way of thinking to do that effectively. As a result, millennial leaders must adapt our leadership techniques to be most effective.
What does that look like? First, we must ask questions and be curious about a Gen Z employee’s thoughts, rather than drowning them with our own beliefs about the way things should be done. We must understand that they’re accustomed to receiving information in a very timely manner, so when we communicate with them, we need to be brief and prompt. Finally, in the decision-making process, we must make Gen Zs feel included and part of the team. And we must embrace the fact that they will always be thinking outside the box and coming up with more efficient ways of doing things.
Millennial agency leaders have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the next generation. Let’s use the tools we have to lead and support Gen Z to build a stronger tomorrow.
For more on the differences between millennials and Gen Zs, check out “Not Mini Millennials: Introducing Gen Z.”
Owen Thomas is an agent and senior account executive at Dial Insurance in Lumberton, North Carolina.