Q&A with Gen Z and Millennial Expert Jason Dorsey – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Q&A with Gen Z and Millennial Expert Jason Dorsey – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast


Recently I got to meet Jason Dorsey, an expert on generational differences. We were at the Global Leadership Summit together, and I was honored to interview him for the Global Leadership Summit podcast. I’ve got permission to share this with you today, so get ready to take a lot of notes, and learn how we can reach more people and engage all generations in the workforce. (bright electronic music) This is the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. Hey Jason, it’s so great to have you with us here today, and we had the privilege of meeting last week at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. By the way, your talk was absolutely off-the-charts fantastic. Well, thank you. It was an incredible honor to be there and share that message with so many leaders from around the world. Just an unforgettable moment for me, and it was great that my wife could be there, too, to be a part of it. It’s hard to explain something as magical as the Summit, and so being there with our family is just really special, thank you. So, first of all, tell us a little bit about your background and how did you get started studying the differences and similarities in generations? Well, there’s no pathway that says here’s how to be a generational speaker and researcher, so (laughing) my high school counselor, right off the bat, would have been like, what? But the path that I took, while unconventional, has definitely been directly, led me directly to be here, and that is when I was 18, I really felt inspired to help my generation, and I decided to write a book, sharing everything I had learned at 18 to end up a junior in college, with all these job opportunities even though I grew up in the middle of nowhere in Texas, and that book ended up becoming a big bestseller. It was required reading all around the country, thousands and thousands of young adults, what we now call them Millennials, used it to get their first job, and it springboarded me to speaking, and so I was out speaking and writing about my generation from our perspective and our voice, what we thought was important, and I ended up on 60 Minutes, and when I was on 60 Minutes with Morley, it was this famous 60 Minutes episode where, basically, they’re questioning everything about Millennials, and so that one episode, the next day, the day it aired actually, all these CEOs called, and they said we’ve hired your people, they’re driving us crazy. (laughing) Can you help? We need your help. So my whole world shifted and I went from speaking to Millennials about how to navigate and make it in the world, overcome excuses and adversity, and so forth, and instead focus on working with leaders, particularly, business, community, and organizational leaders, to understand Millennials, and that’s how we started our research firm a little over 10 years ago, and then what we do is primary research, original research, to understand the why behind the mindset of different generations, and we do this for Gen Z, we do this for Millennials, we do this for Gen X, who by the way, nobody talks about, and then we also do this with Boomers, to really understand each generation’s view and then bring them together, because that’s what I believe leaders need to do now, is they need to better understand the generations and get specific strategies and tools to bring them together, and that’s what I was so fired up to get to speak at Summit, and as you can see, it went straight from an 18-year-old writing my first book all the way to speaking at what I think is the most amazing event in the world, so, really grateful for it. Well, I’m still blown away that you wrote a bestselling book at the age of 18. That blows my mind completely, and I am fascinated with the subject. I know that there are tons of leaders right now that want to better understand the people that they’re working with, and so you unpacked this some at the Summit, but for the sake of thousands of other people that haven’t heard this, can you kind of give us just a brief description of the different generations in the workplace today? Who are they, in kind of a summary, and what are some of the top characteristics that come to mind? The youngest generation right now that we’re studying is what’s called Gen Z, and just so you know, we think that name will eventually change. My new book happens to have it in the title, so hopefully, not for a little while, (laughs) but definitely, Gen Z is that group, and they’re about age 22, 23, and under. The key for them is that they do not remember 9/11, and this is a really big deal. 9/11 was the defining event, our where were you when moment for the Millennial generation, and Gen Z does not remember it, and so this generation, oldest is roughly 22, 23, we don’t know how young they go. It could be as early as 2010, 2012, we’re just not sure. Their parents are Generation X, largely, and Gen X said, we do not want our kids to end up like Millennials. (laughs) So Gen Z’s been raised very differently. Gen Z also came of age, and this is really one of the key drivers that we’re studying, with the Great Recession, and so because of that, and this is really the key here, Gen Z was old enough to remember and process the Great Recession, but young enough for it to change how they viewed the world, and so what we’re seeing with Gen Z is they’re much more practical with their money, they’re trying to avoid debt, they’re delaying buying cars or even getting a driver’s license. Really interesting shift from Millennials. Millennials, though, are the generation right before them, I’m a Millennial myself, Millennials were born anywhere from about 1977 to roughly 1995. Now Millennials are a hugely studied generation. We constantly have studies going on for brands and for leaders to understand this generation, even as employees. The key thing with the Millennial generation is that they’re older than most people assume, and the average Millennial’s actually over the age of 30, and as we look even further ahead, the oldest Millennials are now around the age of 40. In fact, the 25-year-old that people have kind of burned into their mind as the Millennial, we’ve been talking about that 25-year-old for 15 years, and as we look at this Millennial generation, what we’ve uncovered is something we call delayed adulthood, which means they’re delaying a lot of the historic markers of adulthood. That doesn’t mean they’re the right markers, it just means they’re the historic ones. Everything from entering the workforce, finishing their education, all the way through marriage and kids, even buying their first home, all these things seem to be pushed back, and that’s really interesting as we look at the difference between generational life stage. What we also see with Millennials is everybody’s running around saying, oh, the Millennials are tech-savvy, and that’s kind of the big theme about Millennials, they’re so tech-savvy, but what our research shows is that’s completely not true. In fact, it’s a detriment to the conversation ’cause what we’ve uncovered is that Millennials are not tech-savvy. What they truly are, they are tech-dependent, and there’s a critical difference, and so when we’re out there working with executives and brands, and I’m speaking at conferences and helping all these clients, it’s a very different way of engaging an employee or somebody in your organization when they’re tech dependent versus tech-savvy, completely different approach, and then you get to Gen X, who’s never talked about, right? I mean what happened to Gen X? It’s like they didn’t exist. See, that’s my generation. Why are you leaving me out? (laughs) So when we look at Gen X, they’re this hugely important generation. I speak about them all the time at conferences and events, and people are shocked. They’re like, oh, you covered Gen X. Of course. Gen X is the glue in the workforce because they don’t like Baby Boomers or Millennials. (laughs) Gen X is also very naturally skeptical, which makes sense. Gen X came of age at a really interesting time, and what I mean by that is divorce rates, they saw major companies have layoffs, Gen X came of age when all this change and turmoil was going on. We had the AIDS epidemic. I mean, I always like to say Gen X survived the 80s. (laughs) Really, really interesting time. Y’all were there for Atari, big deal, and Gen X’s life stage right now, Gen X is often parenting their kids, but they’re also now parenting their parents, really trying to help them out, so they’re bring pulled in two different directions, which is affecting their mindset, which is affecting how they view their career. For many of them, it’s a financial issue as well. It’s a really pivotal time for Gen X. In fact, when we work with managers and leaders, people always say, well, let’s focus on Millennial retention. I’m like, no, no, Gen X retention is really where it should be because Gen X tells us right now, they’re deciding, are they gonna stay and finish out their career where they are, or are they gonna move somewhere else? Gen X retention is actually the most important data in the workforce right now. Gen X was born about, for those trying to put the birth years together, about 1965 to 1976, roughly in there, and then, of course, the generation before them are the Baby Boomers, and the Boomers have been the conversation topic for decades now, and it makes sense. Massive, massive generation. Obviously, they were born after the Great War, or World War II, and because of this baby boom, you had this huge generation. What we see with Boomers is they’re very much still into work ethic, they’re very much into pay your dues, they’re very competitive, and I think, frankly, and you heard me talk about this at Summit, I think people write off Boomers. Oh, their time has passed, they’re outdated. I’m like, they invented the computer. (laughs) Don’t count ’em out. I mean they can do math by hand. (laughs) They’re geniuses, and when we look at Boomers, they’re still the most influential generation. That’s because they tend to control access to capital, they have the best political and regulatory relationships, they’re often the most involved, they have this great loyalty and legacy. They’re still contributing a tremendous amount and we believe they’re the most influential generation right now. Super helpful, and I’d like to get you to coach us a little bit, Jason, in the workplace, because I know that the generational data can give us some tools to improve working relationships in multi-generational teams, so I’d like to ask a question and then kind of flip the question. Let’s start with kind of the more seasoned workers. Let’s start with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, and they might be struggling working with the emerging generations. What advice would you give to Boomers and Xers to engage the Millennial generation and then the Gen Z coming up behind them? The first thing when we work with Boomers and Gen X and just more seasoned leaders, is to recognize that this is not a conversation about coddling or catering to the younger generations. That’s always a sort of knee-jerk reaction and people get defensive, why do I have to change for them? The way we like to reframe it is that every generation brings value to the workforce. Youngest to oldest, all do, and what we know is that adapting in certain ways, kind of expecting people to come together rather than just move in one direction, brings out the best in all of them, right? That’s how we come together as a team, and there’s very specific things that we’ve uncovered that older generations can do that don’t cost them any money, that are way easier than what they’re doing now, that if they do these, they do see higher performance, greater engagement, greater loyalty, all of the things that they actually want, with less time and effort. So, a few examples that I would strongly encourage people to try. When we look at multi-generational workforces, one of the things that our data has uncovered, and this is through our primary research, is that the first day and the first week at a job have never been more important. In fact, we’ve uncovered that many Millennials and Gen Zers decide on their very first day at work whether or not they can stay long-term. Their first day, and that’s a huge deal because at many employers, the first day’s not great, and so we’re looking for what are the very specific things you can do to make the first day stand out? And it’s everything from sending them a welcome text, letting them know where to park, letting them know what happens on lunch, what to wear, making sure they have two or three people that they at least know, all the way to really simple stuff. This is really cool. We just met with a company that does this. They’ll ask you for your favorite sports team, your favorite food, any hobbies you have, and socialize that with your team who you’re gonna be working with, so when you go there, you already have something to talk about, and they do that in reverse, so you too know a little bit about them. It’s all about making the first day more welcoming without giving them ribbons or trophies or any of that nonsense. Second thing we see is that if you want to increase their likelihoods of success, you want to provide specific examples of the performance that you expect. This to me is really, really important, and a different way to look at training. Most training today is, oh, we need this in-depth detailed training and it’s gonna take tons and tons of times. What we find is that where people get bogged down at new jobs, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, are the little things. So give us specific examples of what you want us to do. How should be interact with clients? How should we interact in these different situations, all the way down to what should we wear? I mean, just make it super simple. What happens is older generations say things like, our dress code is business casual. That means something totally different by generation, by gender, by geography, and more, and we have to now try to figure out how to interpret that. So, we always teach people, make short videos of what you want. Why? You only have to make them one time. It will save you tremendous time and frustration. The new person will learn much faster, and the best part is you can then hold them accountable, which is what you as a leader actually want to be able to do. And then the third one I would share is to provide more specific feedback and more frequent feedback. What we see is that many senior leaders have been conditioned to the traditional annual review or much more infrequent reviews, and we’re gonna go spend an hour, and we’re gonna do a 180-degree review or what have you. What we found is with the younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, they actually want less but more frequent feedback, and the way that we measure that is they’re looking for 20 or 30 seconds every week or two weeks that just says, hey, great job, I saw this, or, I saw that you struggle over here, here’s a resource, but it’s that quick-hit or check-in feedback. Frequency actually trumps amount of feedback when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z, or as I like to say all the time, if you only give annual reviews, change the name. Call them exit interviews (laughs) ’cause we won’t be there. That’s really interesting, the thing that, I’ve studied this quite a bit, that I wasn’t aware of, is that the first day or first week matters so much. Sometimes, it helps me to understand the why behind it. What’s the reason? Why does that matter so much more to them than it did to other generations? We have people graduating from colleges and universities with less work experience than ever before. So they have fancy degrees, but not a lot of real-world experience, so in their mind, they have an idea of what it’s supposed to be like. Then they get there and it’s not that way. ‘Cause of this lack of real-world experience, teenage employment, for example, is really down in a lot of cases, particularly, workforce participation, so if you’re not out there working, you don’t learn a lot of those interpersonal skills that are so critically important, and so then you show up, and you’re thrown into this situation, and you don’t know exactly what to do, so, you put all that together, and it’s a very stressful situation, so anything you can do to mitigate or remove the stress, that’s easy and free, we strongly encourage people to do. Again, it’s not catering, it’s not coddling, but when you expect somebody to show up and just dive in and get to work, and they’ve never worked in your industry or in your business before, you really are setting them up for failure, and so what we always say is, set people up for success by showing them what you expect, and I think the why behind that is entering the workforce later, they’re graduating from high school and college or university with much less work experience than ever before, and they’re being thrown into situations that were sold a certain way to them in recruiting. They’ve created an idea around that, then they get there, and it’s not like that. So, anything you can do that makes that first day or first week or first month, make them feel more engaged and valued, has a dramatic impact in how long they stay and how they feel about it, and it’s so easy to do. We just didn’t know to do it, because other generations were like, just show up, and go to work. That’s what you do, you just show up and go to work. I’m gonna flip the question in a minute and ask to give advice to the younger workers, but before I do that, I want to give you a chance to give us a little bit of distinction between Gen Z and the Millennials in the workplace. I think there’s quite a bit of differences in the way they approach money, the way they view politics, the way they view authority and such. In the workplace, how would you see Millennials differing from the younger Gen Z? So, the key with Gen Z is the oldest members of Gen Z are around 22 or 23 years old. They’re still very young when it comes to entering the workforce, particularly, if you didn’t work as a teenager. What we’re seeing already, ’cause we’ve been studying Millennials now for quite a long time, are some pronounced differences around money. You remember that Gen Z came of age around the Great Recession, so they saw their parents struggle through that. Because of that, what our research shows is Gen Z is much more frugal or practical with their money, we say fiscally conservative in our language, than Millennials. Meaning they’re already saving money. What we found is 12% of Gen Z, remember, these are young people, 12% of Gen Z are already saving for retirement. They have an emergency account set up, and when we do focus groups for brands or clients all around the world, we ask some Gen Zers to show us their emergency account, and they take out their phone and they show us, and they’re like, I have 23 dollars and 12 cents. (laughs) But what 17-year-old had an emergency account? We see them driving sales in thrift stores, not wanting to pay full price, and how does that translate into employers? Well, what Gen Z is looking for, which is a real shock, given their age, is stability from an employer. That’s very different than Millennials. Millennials wanted fast growth, they wanted stock options, they want all the stuff. Remember the dot-com boom, and then the bust. Very different, earlier entry into the workforce than what we’re seeing with Gen Z. They want stability. Gen Z is asking about benefits. They’ll literally say, what are the bennies? Trying to figure out like, what 21-year-old asked about benefits? But this is now a huge deal when it comes to recruiting them. Gen Z also expects ongoing, tech-based training. Why? Because everything they’ve learned is through YouTube, so they expect employers to give them on-demand training and a YouTube-like feel, so when they need to develop a skill, they don’t have to wait for another session to start in six months, they can just jump right in, learn it, and then apply it and move on. We also see that Gen Z expects much more feedback, even than Millennials. This is a big one in a new study we just did. Gen Z wants more frequent feedback than Millennials, which, obviously, Millennials wanted more than Gen X, and all of those wanted more than Boomers, and as we look at Gen Z, the feedback, though, is a little bit different. Where we saw that check-in feedback, that quick-hit feedback that I shared with you, work really well with Millennials. Gen Zs even fine to have it all digital, whether that’s Slack, whether that’s texting, whether that’s a messaging app, the idea of that quick-hit feedback, because remember, they’ve come of age around social media with very, very short feedback loops. So Gen Z’s moving in and what that means is you’ve got to position opportunities different, really sell benefits and stability, and position their careers in a way that really matches kind of their value system, if they will. So the Gen Z, from what I understand and correct me if I’m wrong, it appears that they are willing to pay their dues, maybe a little more than in the past, and talk to them for a minute. We’ve got a lot of younger listeners, so even some Gen Z or younger Millennials who are dealing with my generation, Gen X, or Boomers coming in the workplace, what would you say to a 20- to a 30-year-old about the mindset of being successful and dealing with those who are older and maybe even leading up, how would they enter the workforce using what they have to make a real positive difference? When we look at the, kind of the emerging talent is what we would call them, this group that’s 22 to 30 or let’s even skew down a little bit, 20 to 30, what we find, ironically enough, is that the members of the generation who adapt to the communication style and leadership style of those that are older often get promoted faster, because older generations find them easier to work with, they often feel more heard. What do I mean by that? If we have a 25-year-old that’s gonna go meet with, let’s say, a Gen X or Boomer, we’ll frequently talk to them, hey, when you go into this meeting, make sure that you make eye contact, and be sure and take notes, and when we interview Gen X and Boomers, they say one of the most annoying things that young people don’t do is they don’t take notes, like they’re somehow gonna remember it all, Jason. It’s my idea, I have the notes and I still don’t remember it all, and they’re gonna suddenly walk in here and remember it all? They need to take notes. And so we always tell these kind of young professionals and emerging talent is look at them in the eyes and take notes. See, this is interesting to me because it really does mean a lot to me when I see anybody taking notes, and I’m the Gen X guy you’re talking about, and it does communicate that you value what’s going on, so I love that that’s practical. What else would you tell the 20-something-year-old? Yeah, we also talk with them to copy or mimic the communication preferences of the leadership or those that are another generation. So if other generations really like talking on the phone, or they really like sending emails with punctuation, (laughs) then adapt how you communicate with them, so that it’s easier for them to interact with you. I think that’s just brilliant advice, and I hope every 25-year-old that really wants to fast-track it would hear that, to mimic the communication style of those that are interacting with you. Does it go both ways? Should I send emojis non-stop to the 22-year-old, or is it one way or both ways? It’s both ways, but within the boundaries of your culture and your values. If you work in industries, and this is where generations you have to be very careful, just because somebody can do it at Amazon or at Zillow or any of these tech companies doesn’t mean you can take the same thing and drop it into a manufacturing plant or a quick service restaurant or many other scenarios. You always have to be respectful and thoughtful of the use case, like what are the boundaries? So if it makes sense for that older generation to be able to use emojis to communicate, and that’s part of their culture and it works, absolutely, but if the culture doesn’t really reflect that or that’s, for example, I work in manufacturing, let’s say, ’cause we happen to work a lot in manufacturing, and I send you an emoji about some question you asked, and it turns out it’s around safety, and there’s any room at all for error and misunderstanding that, you absolutely should not ever use the emoji in that case, period. Doesn’t matter your generation, and so it’s these kind of situations we have to be thoughtful about, but definitely, we teach older executives, a lot of times, what’s the technology that’s gonna help you all communicate better? Is it Slack? Is a group chat? Is it video chat? These kind of things, if it gets you the results you need faster and easier, absolutely, let’s do it, but if it creates risk, then you got to be really careful about that. So you work at a restaurant, somebody texts you and asks you for, can they change their shift, and you send back a smiley face, well, what does that mean? What does that mean?
(Jason laughs) I like what you said, Jason. You used these words several times. You said respectful and thoughtful, and this is a bias to me, that kind of makes me want to just scream sometimes when I’m working with other leaders, is, to me, the generations can be disrespectful and make fun of each other, especially the Millennials just get a really bad rap. I work with, the majority of our team, they are Millennials and they’re actually fantastic to work with, and so would you, what do you say? We celebrate and try to understand the differences without being critical? How important is that to someone in leadership? Yeah, I think celebrating the differences, respecting them, even just acknowledging the differences, is incredibly important as a leader. If you’re a leader and you’re not recognizing these differences, you’re making your job, your responsibilities, harder and you’re putting people in more difficult situations. Now, I like to say we want to create space for people to be able to bring those differences to work or to bring them, if they’re a customer, into the buying environment, or if they’re in an organization, a non-profit, they need to be able to bring those with them, however they are, and I think there’s a difference here, and this is where people get a little unsettled. It’s not about asking people to agree on the differences, but it’s absolutely about respecting them. You and I may not agree on certain things, but I can absolutely respect you. I can make sure you are heard, I can make sure you’re valued, and I can make sure that I am empathetic to where you are, without question, and that should be true across generations. I really appreciate that about your work. I think it’s valuable and helpful. I want to dive in just a little bit to the mindset of Millennials and Gen Z. I’m assuming we’ve got a lot of leaders that are gonna want to market to these generations and/or reach them to try to engage them in whatever their ministry is or their mission or invite them into something that’s meaningful. Let’s start with Millennials. Can you help me, Jason, understand what kind of message resonates with them? Interest, dreams, concerns? What is gonna take someone in your generation and pique your interest to want to be a part of something broader? Yeah, and this is probably the biggest area that we work in is the messaging piece, because messaging drives everything else, perception, trust, influence, and so forth. When we look at messaging, and it comes to Millennials, what we see is that Millennials really want a unique experience. They want to be respected and included as an individual, and a lot of times, the perception or what’s put out there into the marketplace or through any organization is kind of this one-size-fits-all, and I think that really turns off a lot of Millennials. This idea that there’s just one size fits all, we offer a service at one time and it has one topic and so forth, when in reality, many organizations are able to create very unique experiences, very nuanced experiences, as they engage, but that’s not message, so messaging, the uniqueness that you’re able to create I think is essential, and we teach companies to do this all the time. It’s absolutely essential. Second thing I see in marketing to Millennials or messaging to Millennials is you have to make it much more visual. This is a generation that has been conditioned to skip blocks of text. They’re very video-driven, so they need to see videos, they need to see images, and not the fake stuff where everybody’s perfectly cropped and all that. No, they want to see pictures of real people like them, engaging in whatever it is that you offer, and it’s so important. That’s where the trust goes up. So they want to see people who look like them. Is there a time limit on videos? Is shorter better? Does it matter? It matters in the instant, so if you’re putting something on Instagram, and there’s a one-minute limit, then yeah, you certainly want to max out that one minute. On YouTube, we find that people, if they like a video, will stay in the video, so instead of watching for a minute, they might watch her five or seven or 10 or more minutes. It’s really interesting, but you have to give people the option to stay in it, and you can track all those analytics, it’s free to do, and it really shows you how people are engaging, and as I always like to say, if you want people to watch your videos longer, make better videos. (laughs) What is better? Is slick and highly produced better, or is raw and authentic, or does it matter? It does matter and it matters in relation to your positioning and your brand, and I mean brand whether you’re a non-profit, religious organization, or a car company. Certainly, slickly produced videos that have that wow factor definitely can draw people in. They’re often very safe, and they give, they present your most polished, kind of best self. However, what we see drives a lot of engagement, particularly, on social media, which is where people are consuming most of the videos, are very kind of authentic, raw, personal, what I like to say, humanized, videos where people feel like they’re really getting to know you or getting to know the organization or product or service, so a combination of both usually works best. Shorter videos tend to work to draw people in, but if people are drawn in, they definitely want to sign up or be able to engage with more in-depth content, and I think that’s really gonna be the trend. It’s gonna be particularly interesting as we look ahead to search by voice, which we think, over the next several years, is gonna be really critical, so we look at Millennials, it’s the uniqueness, it’s highly visual, and then the last thing I would say is that Millennials are very outcome-driven, so as you think about engaging with Millennials, most organizations want to talk about processes or steps. We have our five-step program or three-step process or whatever it is, and what our work shows is that Millennials don’t respond well to long, linear processes. They tend to check out. (laughs) It’s kind of like an abandoned cart on Amazon. They don’t get all the way through, and so what we find, though, is if you show them the outcome first, and this one of our favorite techniques, if you show them the outcome first and work backwards, they’ll actually follow every single step. So what do I mean by that? If you’re offering this amazing experience or you’re offering whatever this great promise is, or whatever that thing is, show that first, work backwards to where they are one time, and then they’ll follow every single step. So helpful. But expect, you know what I mean? Instead of starting with step one and then they fall out by step three. This works all kinds of things. So helpful. I want to ask briefly about Gen Z and then I’m kind of need to ask you some overall advice. So Gen Z, if I’m trying to reach them or attract their interest, what kind of messages resonate with them, and how would that be a little bit different than what you just talked about with Millennials? Yeah, thank you, so at our research center, we’re called the Center for Generational Kinetics, when we look at messaging for Gen Z, what we find them very, very engaged with right now is purpose, social purpose, having an impact in the world. This can take on a lot of kind of different terminology, but the idea here is that they’re really joining a brand rather than just wearing one, and when I think about that, it’s like when people put out messaging, is that a message that they would wanna wear? Is that a message that they would want to share? Is that a message that they would want to snap about? These are all things that are just a different threshold in terms of positioning, than even what Millennials need, and what we also see with Gen Z is they’re very practical, they’re very frugal with their money, so depending on what you’re trying to offer, if there’s a cost to it, you really, really have to show the value very clearly, and they’re very, very value oriented and value-driven, and when we also look at Gen Z, they’re much more diverse, even than Millennials, and this is the serious conversation that has to happen. We need to be showcasing and creating space for much more diversity if we want Gen Z to participate, and that’s diversity of all kinds, and when we look at Gen Z, they also are using different communication channels than Millennials, so where Gen Z might be more on Snapchat or Instagram, you might find more Millennials on other channels. So help me out, Jason, and this is kind of a broad question, but I think you could help a lot of people. If our organization is struggling, we don’t really understand each other, maybe we’re not attracting and retaining the younger generation, maybe there’s some tension, what advice would you give the leaders of the organization to expand and utilize all generations in a respectful way that really multiplies the impact? Oh, great question. So what we always do with organizations when we start with them, is ask them to create what we call a generational snapshot, and what that means is truly break down, whether that’s the membership, in certain cases, whether that’s customers, we could come up with a bunch of different terms, but breakdown by generation, the organization, into a pie chart. It’s usually pretty shocking and revealing because it often shows just how bad the problem is, and then what we are able to do is look at any type of retention or attendance or membership data that we can cut by age, because the combination of the two will help you to see what’s really going on. Particularly, if you can do this over time, if you’ve done this over several years, you really get to see what’s going on, generationally speaking, within an organization, both in terms of recruitment and retention, but also in terms of the overall organization. What we see is that you want to start with real, actual data because it makes it safer to have a candid conversation about what to do next. If you just focus on perception, you get a lot of different opinions, so we always say, start with the data, an accurate, as best you can, snapshot of where we are, and from there, what we like to look at is what’s actually working, ’cause usually there are things that are working and we don’t want to just throw the baby out with the bathwater. We want to really try to understand what’s working that we can do more of, do better, expand on, and build on. In some places, that might be in their social media is doing great, or a specific offering is doing great, so we really want to build on that, and then what we want to look at is what’s not working, and be candid about that in a way that’s constructive. One of the secrets to doing this and having this conversation is that most organizations that do what I just shared are gonna do it from the senior leadership level. They’re gonna get the most tenured, the most senior, whoever it is, and you often end up with a roomful of people that represent a different generation than the one they’re trying to engage, and you can end up with this echo chamber, and frankly, an us versus them, rather than this constructive conversation, so what we do is we then get people to create a multi-generational group to answer these questions, because if you ask a Millennial what’s working in an organization versus a Boomer, you could get two dramatically different answers, and so we have an assessment we do where people can create their own questions. The key is to get each generation to be able to share what they think is working, what’s not working, and then what are the specific actions that they can take to build on what they have that’s working now, and then from there, what we like to do is have candid conversations over a period of time. Organizations don’t change quickly. You’re talking years, and so we want to make sure that this multi-generational group is able to continue the dialogue and not make it a quick-hit thing, because one of the things that turns off younger generations, is, oh, here’s the new thing, that was the old new thing that they’re trying to do to reach us that didn’t work before. (laughs) And so that consistency and true commitment with some type of measurement or tracking is really, really powerful around this conversation, and the last thing is we like to make sure and set this conversation up, which I think the framing of it is really important, that every generation’s important, that every generation’s valuable, and that we want to create a space for every generation to be heard, participate, and really develop as leaders, and I think if you do that, it kind of shifts the dynamic, which normally is, I’ve got the biggest title, so I’m gonna run the show into we’re all in this together, kind of that flatter, team-based organization, which tends to drive better results solving generational challenges. So I’m fascinated with your ideas, and as a final encouragement to our listeners, in all your research, as you’re studying and learning and growing, what are you seeing around the world that’s giving you hope for our future generations? I’m incredibly inspired by Gen Z. This generation is not afraid to share their views and opinions and take action, and kind of put themselves out there in a very public way around what they think is important, and I think that bodes well for all of us, for humankind, whenever young people feel empowered to go and participate in conversations. I think there’s opportunity for us to have better conversations across generations. I think that, to me, is a real area of work, and not just talking about who the generations are, like we did here today, how they can come together, what can leaders do, what can young leaders do, and more experienced leaders do, because this isn’t about one generation catering or adapting to the other. It’s about all the generations valuing each other and coming together. So you have a book coming out in the next year or so? I do, thanks for asking. It’s called Zeconomy, with the letter Z, and it’s how Gen Z will change the future of business, and it’s based on all of our research around the world, on how Gen Z literally is gonna change the future of business and what leaders can do about it, so I’m incredibly excited for it. I can’t wait to read that when it comes out, and I just, I want to personally thank you for your work. It helps all of us as leaders, and your contribution at the Global Leadership Summit was fantastic and I’m thankful for you, and I do hope that Gen Z sticks because the title of your book depends on that title sticking for a while. (laughs) I do, too, but I’m just glad to be able to study them and thanks so much for having me on and being such a champion for the Summit, which is so incredibly important, and for the great messages that you share. It’s been an honor to work with you alongside, so thank you so much for having me. Thanks, Jason. Look forward to learning more from you in the future. Thanks for your contribution today. Thank you. Well, I trust this interview with Jason was helpful to you and I want to remind you that we have a new podcast that drops on the first Thursday of every single month, so I look forward to sharing more content with you next month. If this is helpful to you, invite your friends because I know a lot of people have questions about different generations, and I’m so grateful to those of you that share about the podcast, invite others to be a part of our leadership community on social media and inviting your friends. We have lots of people that actually get together in groups and absorb this content. If it’s helpful to you, please rate it, write a review, wherever you consume the content, and I appreciate your investment in improving leadership because we know that everyone wins when the leader gets better. We’ll be back with you on the first Thursday of next month, and remember, be yourself, because people rather follow leader who’s always real than one who’s always right. Thank you for joining us at the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. If you want to go even deeper into this episode and get the leadership guide or show notes, you can go to life.church/leadershippodcast. You can also sign up to have that information delivered straight to your inbox every month. In the meantime, you can subscribe to this podcast, rate and review it on iTunes, and share with your friends on social media. Once again, thank you for joining us at the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. (bright electronic music)

10 thoughts on “Q&A with Gen Z and Millennial Expert Jason Dorsey – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

  1. Interesting. There has been more talk of this generation than any other that I can remember, and I'm 50.

  2. I am a boomer. I appreciate the acknowledgement that we still add value. I’m 70 in age, but mentally feel no different than 40. Most of us boomers want to stay involved and relevant in the marketplace. Most of us are life long learners so we can add deeper value to others. Thank you for this episode.

  3. 21 year old Gen Z here. I paused and pondered throughout, and I've got to say, this is so accurate. I didn't really even realize this about myself! That I've always sought security and a good first time experience, as my friend groups and peers are skeptics at times. I also got the general notion that with each generation, they reflect their parents a bit. An example would be Gen Y wanting individualism, as a result of baby boomers work environment being brought into family environment, as the paper pushing, do it for the man "type". And gen Z follow their (my) gen X parents of being some what rebellious in an ironic way, leaning towards skeptical thinking, but also held by an ambitious attitude.

  4. Without a vision, the people perish…..I see that the way you show the vision really matters (assuming it was presented in the first place).

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