Unlocking the Enigma of Generation Z: Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Exploring the Unique Qualities of Gen Z Allows Us to Navigate Generational Dynamics

In a Newsweek article, journalist Adam Piore unveiled some intriguing insights into Generation Z, often perceived as idealists and dreamers. However, Gen Z distinguishes itself through a blend of global and local concerns that set them apart from previous generations.

Breaking the Stereotypes

Before delving into Gen Z’s distinctive characteristics, it’s worth noting that Newsweek has featured cover stories about every generation. Frequently, these stories touch upon familiar themes such as entitlement and work ethics. But Gen Z is challenging these stereotypes in unexpected ways.

Gen Z’s Top Concerns

Contrary to the image of carefree youth, Generation Z has its sights firmly set on the future, with specific concerns dominating their thoughts. Gen Z’s worries are highly practical and include money (67%), securing a job (64%), and affording college education (59%). These concerns reveal a pragmatic mindset and a clear focus on personal well-being and financial stability.

Defining a Generational Cohort

What truly defines a generational cohort? According to the US Census Bureau, it’s the events they encounter during their formative years. These events, whether global, technological, economic, or social, interact with the life cycle and aging process to mold people’s worldviews. Often, these moments are accompanied by fear and uncertainty, leaving an indelible emotional impact.

Generational Experiences: Shaping Perspectives

For instance, consider the Vietnam War era, a defining event for the Baby Boomer generation. During this period, older adults felt fear and worry, having experienced the horrors of World War II. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, exhibited mixed emotions—fear coupled with a sense of excitement, as they anticipated sharing this experience with friends. For Generation X, like me, it was the stress of living through this uncertain time.

The Generational Lens

This generational lens allows researchers to explore not only how older adults felt about a particular issue in their youth but also how views evolve across generations. It helps us understand how events shape the way we perceive the world and how these perceptions transcend age boundaries.

Gen Z: The Emerging Giant

Gen Z, the cohort succeeding the Millennials (aka Gen Y), comprises an astonishing 25% of the US population, making them the largest generation yet, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. But it’s not just birth years that define a generation; geography also plays a substantial role. Additionally, Cuspers, individuals born within three to five years of the beginning or end of a generation, offer unique insights. They straddle two generations, making them exceptionally empathetic and adept at understanding the generational “DNA.”

Generational Context: Different Experiences, Different Impact

Generational context is vital in comprehending how different generations react to the same events. Events can impact generations differently, leaving a lasting imprint on their collective consciousness.

Audience Check-In: Do You Know What Cohort You Are?

Now, let’s see where you fall. Raise your hand if you identify as a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennial), or Gen Z. The more you understand about yourself and how you are perceived, the easier it is to adapt to other generations.

Gen Z’s Workplace Revolution

When it comes to being employees, Gen Z is poised to revolutionize the workplace. They seek more than just superficial alignment with company brands. Their expectation is that companies and brands will transcend marketing buzzwords and make tangible, measurable differences in society. This pragmatic approach resonates not only in their expectations of employers but also in their personal concerns, reflecting a generation that values real-world impact.

Conclusion

Generation Z, the largest cohort yet, defies stereotypes with their forward-looking, pragmatic mindset. They are defined not only by their birth years but also by the unique experiences that shape their worldview. Cuspers, those straddling two generations, offer a special perspective, making them invaluable bridges between age groups. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of generational dynamics, understanding the distinct qualities and concerns of each cohort is crucial for fostering empathy and building a more inclusive society.

To deepen your comprehension of generational cohorts and enhance collaborative efforts across age groups, I invite you to arrange a discovery call with me. This session will provide an opportunity for us to delve into the intricacies and investigate the specific aspects that pique your interest.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

What Happened to Your Referrals?

How to Increase Your Study Club / Association Membership and Get More Referrals!

Dentistry is in transition and the status quo is unsustainable.

The changing nature of dental patients and their providers, along with altering patterns of demographics are significantly impacting the ways we practice and our membership dynamics.

Proactively setting a new strategy will influence your referral potential.

To get clear picture of the industry challenges, let’s reveal several of the current dynamics that are occurring.

Aging population

As dental problems begin to escalate, many of our patients are retiring and losing their dental benefits.

  • Traditionalist and Baby Boomer (BB) patient pool is shrinking, which means less patients to refer
  • Less frequent appointments in these categories as well

Association/ Study Club Impact

As dentist retire, so do the leaders of the traditional associations and study clubs.

If we ignore the shifting landscape, the future of our study clubs will be unpredictable and unsustainable. A succession plan is imperative for membership growth.

Diversity and Needs

According to a study conducted by the Hispanic Dental Association together with Proctor and Gamble, the Hispanic population is the fastest growing in the US.

  • 45% lack dental coverage and are dependent on community dental clinics

Consider the value of Spanish-speaking dental professionals and Spanish marketing materials.

  • Invite the Hispanic dental professionals to participate in your membership by speaking their language in your marketing

The other major ethnic shift taking place is with Asian‐Americans. They are >6% of the US population, affluent, well educated, and tech savvy.

  • 40% geographically concentrated: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York

To broaden diversity in your membership, focus your marketing on this demographic if you practice in the concentrated areas.

Gen Z are entering the dental professional workforce. They are more likely to forgo solo practices for joint, group, or corporate practices. These types of practices often keep referrals in-house and provide study club environments.

More women in the field who are restructuring traditional dental practice patterns, with many working part time. This will influence the availability to attend traditional SC events. Consider adjusting your standard event agenda:

  • Offer childcare during meetings
  • Breakfast or lunch meetings
  • Record live and virtual events
  • Varied event lengths

Dental Insurance

The variety of dental insurance plans and payments are shifting and slowly evolving.

Commercial

Using highly selective networks

Demanding more evidence / data

Pressuring providers to reduce fees

Public

Demanding increased accountability from providers

Memberships – plans vary per state and are becoming more popular

Personal

Out of Pocket fee for service

Dental Tourism

Patients are traveling abroad to receive dental treatment at a reduced cost.  The four countries leading the movement are:  Mexico, Costa Rica, Eastern Europe and Asia.

  • The younger the generation, the more likely they are to investigate this option

To keep your dentistry in-house and have a larger referral pool, emphasize the safety / infection control standards in the U.S. Highlight that convenient follow up is included in the fee post procedurally. And of course, advertise your high standard of care and professionalism.

Continual adaptation to the new dynamics of dentistry will keep your practice, study club and association cutting edge. New members will be enthusiastic and loyal. The referrals will grow from the relationships you are building and nurturing.

Dental Relationship Update: A Generational Approach

Relationships are the cornerstone of business and life.

Having just moved to a new city, where we do not know anyone, we have accepted the challenge and embraced the excitement of making new friends and routines.

For most of us, we are out of our comfort zone with change.  However, calculating and customizing your approach will make a huge difference in the end result.

Whenever I interact with someone new, I take a generational approach and ask myself:  How can I communicate from their generational perspective?

RELATIONSHIPS

The “R” in my iRONMAN Principles of Communication refers to relationship building.

Learning to customize your generational language with each patient and team member will escalate the relationship building and drive productive results.

Learn more about customizing your dental generational language here.

PATIENT RELATIONSHIPS

Build the dental patient and team relationships according to their unique generational preferences.

  • Boomers and Traditionalists want to get to know you first, then talk business.  They value dental health and often have financial resources for treatment.
    • Be Aware of being all business, you’ll lose this patient or team member
    • Be Thorough with explanations with a relaxed conversation
  • Gen X prefer brevity and directness; Utilize technology if appropriate; Minimal chit-chat after business
    • Be Aware of asking too many personal questions
    • Recommend ideal treatment options that include a treatment schedule and financial plan
  • Gen Y and Z demand technology; Enjoy interaction and genuine connections: Seek an experience; Utilize text / instant messaging.
    • Be Aware that email and voicemail will not prompt a response
    • Maximize appointment time and provide same day service (if possible)
    • Create a strong online presence to attract patients and employees

Learn more here about generational differences in patient engagement.

CONCLUSION:

“Autopilot” during our dental day definitely has a place.  But I challenge you to ask yourself, “Is there is a better way to communicate with this patient or team member to yield better results?” 

Take a chance on change and break the dental routines that we covet.  You’ll discover that it:  improves your interactions with patients and team members, positively impacts efficiency, and leads to practice productivity.

It isn’t enough to only institute changes at the management level. We all need to commit.  Give it a try next week!

Copyright 2019 Lisa Copeland.  All rights reserved.

Snap Shot of Generational Work Ethics

Generational Immigrants

Have you ever wondered why your colleagues make the decisions they do at work?  Sometimes I scratch my head in confusion and other times I applaud in awe at the unique and creative approach to an opportunity.  Then I remember, “Its Generational”!  Recognizing this influences positive team harmony and allows everyone to have a voice.

Work ethics and values are influenced, in part, by generational qualities. Superior inter-generational relationships are built from understanding who we are and how we are perceived.

The first question to ask is, “Who am I”?  The categories are based on a particular span of years and the ethics are developed from experiencing world events during that particular time frame.  Keep in mind you may be a “Cusper”, bridging two generations.  That is the category I fall into.  I am born on the last year of the Baby Boomer however, my qualities are predominantly Gen X.

Below are the generational categories and their common workplace values with the most important one highlighted last on the list.

Traditionalists (1927-1945)

Team player, Indirect, Loyal, Hard Worker, Rule follower, Respectful, Seniority and age correlate.  They want to be recognized for their years of experience.

Baby Boomer (1946-1964)          

Optimistic, Creative, Healthy, Enjoy personal gratification, Workaholic, Uncomfortable with conflict, Want respect

Gen X (1965-1977)           

Positive, Impatient, Goal Oriented, Multi-tasker, To-do lists, Self-reliant, Techno-literal, Question authority, Want flexibility to create work-life balance.

Gen Y (1978-1999)           

Confident, Social, Diverse, Techno-savvy, Tenacious, Multi-tasker, Like flexibility, Inclusion with “like” peers is very important.    

Gen Z (2000-Present) 

Entrepreneurial. Progressive, Less Religious, Individualistic, Digital Natives, Lonely, Diverse, Overwhelmed   

Generational Geopardy

Generations working side-by-side is not a new concept. However, recent years have included four and now five generations in the workforce.  Move over Millennials, Gen Z is just starting to enter the workforce.

Now that we understand ourselves and each other better, let’s look at how we can improve on business relationships and interactions with a game I call Generational Geopardy. Please note, Gen Z is not included due to their limited time in the workforce to date.

Fill in the blanks from the word list below to develop a tool you can refer to for inter-generational communication tips. Each word is used only once.

Generational Geopardy Blanks

Comfortable

Workaholic

In-Person / Telephone

Instant Gratification

Unfamiliar

 

         

          

Although the generations have different values, they also share many similarities and it is wise to recognize them.  Engagement opportunities occur when we respect differences and focus on commonalities such as:

  • We want to be heard.
  • We want to take part in meaningful work.
  • We want to contribute and make a difference.
  • We want to feel genuinely appreciated.
  • We want to be recognized as a person rather than a “number” at work.
  • We want to develop into our full potential.

Generational Communication Application

How do we translate the information we know about each generation into applicable use? Since the Traditionalists comprise less than 2% of our current workforce we’ll work within the other three categories.

One area we could customize is using their preferred method of communication. As a Gen X, I reach out to people via email and text so I can continue to progress through my day efficiently.  That is also the way I prefer people to communicate with me.  However, if I am working with a Baby Boomer, I will either pick up the phone and call or visit their office for an actual conversation!  Oh my!  You might be surprised at the results you get by implementing customized strategies like these.

Generational Geopardy Answers

Success and referrals come from relationship building. Part of that formula is adapting your interaction style.

I challenge you to use the Generational Geopardy worksheet as a guide to customizing your inter-generational communication.  Begin within your team then expand the techniques you master into your company, clients and personal life.

As you strengthen your generational skills and comfort level, you will be perceived differently and respected more by all the generations.

Copyright 2019 Lisa Copeland, RDH, CSP.  All Rights Reserved

Learning to Embrace the Generational Friction Factor

Dad and Gardening

Last spring I decided to plant a garden.  Having grown up in the Northeast region of the US, with a father who is a Pennsylvania Dutch farmer, I was accustom to homegrown delicacies year round!  I now live in the Northwest region, where rain is abundant and sunshine scarce…farming would be challenging.  Before starting, I researched the planting zones and visited a local nursery to chat with the experts.   After purchasing the seeds most likely to thrive and the proper fertilizer and soil, I was ready to begin. Each morning started with an evaluation for the need for watering, weeding and feeding to customize a plan accordingly.  Within a month my efforts were rewarded with a beautiful garden.

The lessons learned were simple, but essential for success. Gardens need customized care based on the exposure to elements:  weather, sun and soil.  If any of the essentials were missing, the garden would not thrive.

The same principles can be applied to our current work force environments.  In order for our teams to thrive, we must customize our generational language to create a harmonious team that is empowered to succeed.

A Generational Snapshot

Looking at generational snapshot in the USA, each have personalities influenced by multiple historic events.

  • Traditionalists, 1927-1945: Great Depression, WWII
  • Baby Boomers, 1946-1964: Moon Walk, JFK / MLK Assassination, Vietnam War
  • Generation X, 1965-1977: Watergate, Oil Crisis, AIDS, Dot-Com, Gulf War
  • Generation Y, 1978-1999: Columbine, OK City Bomb, 911, Katrina
  • Generation Z, 2000-Present: Widespread terror alerts, Global unrest, Abundent global access to information

Generations are Colliding

For the first time in history, we currently have four to five generations in the work force and the Friction Factor is real. Companies, large and small, are experiencing dissatisfied employees and high turnover rates. A recent study by Accenture reports the top four reasons people leave a job are:  lack of recognition/appreciation, internal politics, lack of empowerment and they don’t like their boss.  The majority of reasons why employees quit are under the control of the employer.  From a generational perspective, we can customize our language and interaction with each group to support their needs and create a meaningful environment for all. The right question to consider is, “How do we best appeal to each generation and appreciate them in their preferred language”?   First we need know the various generations of the company.  The Traditionalists and the Baby Boomers include our more senior employees.  Generation X are now middle age, taking on management roles, and Y and Z compile the younger team members.  Each category has a unique potential to contribute to company growth IF we speak in the generational language that best appeals to them.

Let’s say you are a Baby Boomer Director of Sales, about to provide feedback to a Generation Y, Professional Sales Representative.  Your interaction with him / her from a verbal, non-verbal and technological standpoint will influence their motivation and productivity.

 Take the Generational Challenge

Below are six examples of how a company can more effectively communicate with varying generations.

  1. Dress to meet the expectations of the oldest generation. Gen Y, if you have a meeting with a Baby Boomer:
    • Men, wear a button down collared shirt, tie and jacket
    • Women, a conservative dress or dress shirt with a skirt or pants
  2. Generation X prefer to maximize efficiency. Email and text is the preferred form communication.
  3. The older the generation, the more they equate title with respect. Call each person by an appropriate title, “Mrs. Hall”, “Dr. Jones”.
  4. When providing support information about your product, determine which type of resource speaks the right language. Tangible paper resources vs. technology.  Traditionalists and Boomers are not as familiar / comfortable with technology as compared to the younger generations. Choose accordingly.
  5. Gen Y and Z are connected 24/7. Technology and flexibility are company cultures they seek.
  6. Senior teammates build relationships first…business second. Follow up with a personal phone call vs. an email or text.

I invite you to select three challenges from above to customize your generational language to increase employee career satisfaction and company growth. To learn more about how you can apply effective generational tactics in your life connect with Lisa Copeland Communications.

Copyright 2019 Lisa Copeland.  All rights reserved.