“Just Figure It Out” Isn’t Working: Common Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Training Generation Z

 

Training Generation Z

We need people who can hit the ground running.

We don’t do a whole lot of hand-holding around here.

You’ll figure it out pretty quick.

Sound familiar? Most of us can remember being thrown into a new role and feeling completely unprepared. Imagine it is your first day in a customer-facing, tech support job after receiving only a few hours of training on call center software. Hitting the ground running can be challenging when you are learning something new.

In my book, Generation Z in the Workplace: Helping the Newest Generation in the Workforce Build Successful Working Relationships and Career Paths, I surveyed men and women born after 1995 (i.e., Generation Z) about what they wanted their supervisors to start doing, to help them be more successful in their roles.

One of the most common responses I received was that they wanted “appropriate and continuing training” in how to perform their jobs well. They also wanted “clear and detailed communications about directions and expectations.”

Avoiding these common mistakes when training Generation Z will help you give them this relevant training and communication. In return, you’ll benefit from a confident, empowered employee who understands your expectations and knows how to achieve them. 

Are You Making These Mistakes? 

  • Not focusing on the basics first. It’s easy to assume your new hires, and current employees, know more than they actually do. Be sure to give them explicit instruction in their job tasks and expectations.
  • Not making training resources available on phones and other mobile devices. This is the mobile generation. They expect to access information quickly, when they need it, on their phones and tablets.
  • Assuming offline training isn’t necessary for this hyper-connected generation. Your youngest, tech-savvy employees might also need training in how to communicate and interact person-to-person, offline. Remember that face-to-face “people skills” matter, and not everyone is skilled in this area.
  • Not making training flexible. This generation expects to access information when they need it, and where they need it. A rigidly-sequenced training program that’s only accessible during daytime hours might not work for your youngest hires.
  • Not updating or replacing out-of-date software. Rest assured, they’ll expect the technology to work quickly and efficiently. If you didn’t bother to replace that slow, clunky platform, they’ll definitely notice. And, let you know how they feel about it.
  • Not deciding in advance on specific, measurable goals. If you aren’t clear about goals, you won’t be able to measure their effectiveness well. Make sure trainees also understand these goals from the very beginning. No one, regardless of age, wants to waste their time or disappoint their manager.

Yes, Generation Z may have different priorities, and we’ll need to rethink traditional approaches to training. If you’re willing to make the effort, you improve performance, productivity, and morale, and you’ll also build loyalty by proving that you believe in their potential. It’s a great investment.

 

Dr. Candace Steele Flippin is a multigenerational workplace scholar, author, and public affairs expert. Connect with her at www.candacesteeleflippin.com.