There is this widely held stereotype that Generation Z (those born from the mid-1990s onwards) are more comfortable with social media than social interaction and that when it comes to challenges they have all the resilience of a soggy KitKat.
Whilst there may be some truth to this narrative (I can’t say I have done my own survey) I can confidently state that it doesn’t apply to the delegates I recently trained on the Investment2020 programme, a scheme specifically aimed at preparing individuals to join the investment management industry.
Taking people out of their comfort zone
During one packed day that Kaplan Leadership and Professional Development designed and delivered as part of the wider Investment2020 programme, we took about 30 trainees out of their comfort zone and provided them with a framework for future development to take back in the workplace. Across a series of experiential learning exercises, the delegates publicly presented their plans, justified their decisions and considered their contributions within a team environment.
Whether you are new to a career or twenty years into the game, these are not easy things to do. Position, credibility and ego can all be threatened.
Trainees want to be challenged
The Investment2020 trainees nevertheless performed admirably. They wanted to be challenged, have their voices heard and leave equipped with a skill set that they could immediately apply. They didn’t need praise and displayed a robustness that would confound many critics.
It is essential that, in equipping our next cohort of financial specialists, challenging learning environments are provided. There is too much at stake to say everyone is brilliant and success is guaranteed. Individuals must feel tested. They need to have experience working within teams, under pressure to produce credible plans. They must possess the confidence to communicate their course of action, the emotional intelligence to interact with others, and the ability to self-reflect.
Gen Z are tougher than we think!
The day we designed was about creating an experience, a building block for the future within which the above skills can all be developed. So, whilst some commentators may argue that Generation Z need a ‘kids glove’ approach bounded with endless love, I would argue not. To adopt such a methodology would be a disservice to their ability and to the tasks that they will be expected to perform. Yes, they know their hashtags, adore selfies and Instagram what they had for breakfast. They do however have the ability to question systems, demonstrate a creative flair and show a hunger to change the status quo - all of which is a credit to any organisation.
So, if asked about the Investment2020 trainees, I would have to say they were much more like firm Snickers than soggy KitKat.1
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For further information contact Simon Taylor, Senior Leadership Consultant at Kaplan Leadership and Professional Development: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Other brands are available