A Research Paper By Camilla Born, Success Coach, HONG KONG
Who Are Generation Z?
Who is Generation Z? I have a particularly keen interest in this new and exciting generation with a 20 year plus background in Education. I have had the privilege to teach hundreds of Generation Z students. What is it that sets them apart from previous generations? Generation Z will soon overtake Millennials as the most populous generation in the world, currently, more than one-third of the world’s population belong to Generation Z. Born between 1995 and 2012 and currently making up 24.3% of the US population and on track to be the most diverse generation in US history by 2021. Generation Z is the first generation that has never known a world without the internet. They have grown up not remembering a time before the September 11th attacks. They have witnessed the meteoric rise of China. They are the generation with answers at their fingertips thanks to the internet. They have been able to fact-check their teachers and parents in real-time on their smartphones which represents a clear shift in authority.
What Makes Generation Z So Unique?
Generation Z is all about technology, as mentioned above for the vast majority internet and smartphones are commonplace. Gen Z is looking for instant gratification, they are highly aware that if they need information, it is readily available on the internet. It is not uncommon for Gen Z to have friends all over the world. However, members of this group still prefer to have face-to-face human contact whenever possible especially with people they know. When coaching this group of individuals, it’s really important to understand what makes them tick.
This generation is financially focused as a result of watching their Generation X parents lose significant savings in a short period during the market crash and recession of 2008. More recently, they have witnessed job insecurity and financial instability during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Members of this group have seen at first hand how quickly money can disappear but also on the flip side how unattainable properties can be to purchase especially coupled with large amounts of student debt. This has led this group to readily accept employment that provides a steady income even if it is not their dream job. That’s not to say that this group does not seek a dream job but if the decision comes down to a dream job or receiving a more substantial paycheck, the salary increase would more often than not be the driving factor. Gen Z is also extremely entrepreneurial. They are fully aware that money can be made from great ideas. They are also not afraid to chase those ideas.
As mentioned before, Generation Z is all about technology. They are fully aware that if they need information, it is just a click away. Gen Z does a lot of research online and coaches trying to reach this group would be wise to attract them through online means such as websites and social media for example Instagram. Facebook is seen as a very old hat and something their parents would use. This group also relies on user reviews to support their gut instincts. Online coaching is ideal for Generation Z as although they enjoy face-to-face interaction it does not necessarily have to be in the same physical location. As discussed above they are highly adept at using apps so coaching by Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype is ideal for this generation.
From firsthand experience, I am aware that this group is very focused and competitive in most areas of their lives. They are highly driven to attend the best schools, achieve straight A’s at school, excel in sporting events and they strive to secure the highest paying jobs. This cohort pushes themselves outside of their comfort zone however on the flip side of this is extreme external and internal pressure. This is where coaching can be a vital service for Gen Z. More of which will be discussed later in this paper.
Due to this competitive edge, Gen Z prefers to work independently. This is where they differ from Millennials. As they are highly independent, they want to control their destiny and not rely on others for their success. Generation Z wants to be heard and listened to making coaching an ideal way to lead Gen Z.
Coaching and Generation Z
In my coaching practice, I would like to focus on two main groups of Generation Z clients. Firstly, those Gen Z teenagers who are currently in school and aged 15 to 18. As mentioned, this particular group is extremely competitive and striving for exceptionally high standards. This creates huge amounts of pressure and stress. Coaching these students for academic success will benefit this cohort greatly. It is important to understand that teenage brains work differently from adults. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This part of the brain responds to situations with wise judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. This rational part of the brain is not fully developed and will not be fully developed until the age of 25. Understandably, this is an added pressure for teenagers who process information with the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain. So it is entirely understandable that teenagers can become emotional, reactive, and sometimes take unnecessary or unplanned risks.
Coaching can assist teenagers to process their emotions, building emotional intelligence, and aid in preparing this cohort for both the present and the future. Building a strong foundation to grow from.
Academic or Academic Success Coaching is a relatively new field that seems to be gaining traction, particularly in the US, Canada, and Singapore. Coaching is especially beneficial during the buildup to exams and common discussion topics could include time management, relaxation techniques for preparing for exams, procrastination, self-doubts, building confidence, selection of university courses, planning for university, and preparing to leave home, how Covid 19 is impacting on daily life, talking about social pressures, the pressures of social media, talking about pressures within a family setting. Due to coaching being entirely individualized the session will always focus on the client’s unique experiences, strengths, challenges, and goals in a confidential setting working to strict ICF guidelines. Clients will always walk away from the session with a clearer sense of self-awareness and a robust action plan to work to. Numerous techniques will be used within the coaching session from the use of Power Tools, Positive Psychology, building confidence, reframing perspectives, and identifying underlying beliefs to name but a few. As Generation Z is so familiar with self-directed learning, this group will thrive on coaching.
The other Generation Z group that I would like to work with is those Gen Z who are just about to take their first steps onto the rung of the corporate ladder and feel unsure about what path to take or those who have just started a new job and would benefit from some coaching support. According to recent research, Coaching is the leadership style that resonates best with GenZ. Coaching prompts introspection, which means coachees must turn inwards to discover the right answer. The self-refection and self-evaluation process allows the Gen Z team member to become even more productive and dependent. Again, building on those strong foundations that I mentioned earlier in my paper. Coaching is so effective for this group as through coaching they are arriving at their solution either individually or collectively with their coach which as being highly independent is their preferred style of learning.
Following on from this theme, the most effective coaching happens when leaders of Gen Z prioritize asking open-ended questions over giving instructions or telling this group what to do. Difficult as it may be, Gen Z thrives when they are not given endless advice but are asked curious open-ended questions to solve problems this will help this particular group to solve problems and reach their full potential.
Laser Coaching works especially well with this group, brief interactions are important to Generation Z. In fact, 67% of Generation Z are comfortable with having their manager check in with them but only for 5 minutes or less.
Laser Coaching is a one-time goal-orientated session. It is typically less than an hour and can be as short as 20 minutes. The coach must be able to build trust quickly, nail down the real problem, be able to share observations, and deliver bold questions. Laser coaching is an effective and efficient way to assist Generation Z.
Generation Z and Mental Health
I believe that Coaching has a huge role to play in supporting mental health. In Coaching, we focus on the present and the future with functional clients. There will be times especially with regards to mental health when therapy may be a more suitable option for a client. It is our job as a coach to be highly aware of when a client may be better suited to therapy rather than coaching and recommend our clients to a reputable and trusted therapist.
Members of Generation Z understand that they are growing up in an age of increased stress and anxiety. This group prioritizes finding ways of managing their mental health and is certainly more open about it than previous generations. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 70% of teens across all genders, races, and income levels say that depression and anxiety are significant problems among their peers, at a higher rate than previous generations.
Gen Z faces stress from multiple factors including gun crime, harassment, the worry of financial instability, the stress of studying, and pressure to achieve high grades, politics, and social media. Ever connected Gen Z have easily accessible information at their fingertips and are made constantly aware of tragic world news immediately. This can take a toll on mental health.
The onset of Covid 19 has burdened Gen Zers with additional stressors. The shift from in-person to remote learning has been challenging for many. Many have struggled to adapt to learning from home. Family dynamics and feelings of isolation have been a real challenge.
However, the positive side is that this group is not afraid to talk about mental health and seek help. This has to be a huge shift for society as a whole. Coaching is certainly a new avenue for Gen Z to make full use of as discussed earlier in this paper.
Academic Success and Career Coaching for Generation Z
In conclusion, Generation Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation in the world. With more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves as Generation Z. As discussed, Generation Z is so familiar with self-directed learning, this particular group will thrive on coaching. Academic Success and Career Coaching for Generation Z seems to be an exciting and pivotal prospect. I will certainly relish the opportunity to work with this dynamic, driven, and diverse group of individuals.
DeloitteWelcome to Generation Z
Ryan Jenkins The Most Effective Way to Lead Generation Z
TTI Success Insights 10 Defining Characteristics of Generation Z
Sophie Bethune for The American Psychological Association Gen Z is more likely to report Mental Health Concerns