Books: Gen Z @ Work

book Associations Now November/December 2017 Issue By: Kristin Clarke, CAE

Three new publications look at emerging trends in generational habits, time management, and integrative thinking.

In Gen Z @ Work: How the Next Generation Is Transforming the Workplace, demographics expert and former NGO leader David Stillman adds original research on this generation, enriched by often-hilarious commentary from his 17-year-old son and coauthor, Jonah.

What can you expect from these up-and-comers? Serious, career-minded workers who grew up watching parents stress about job security, so they don’t like depending on anyone—including you. A “driven,” DIY attitude combined with fearlessness and turbo-speed skills they use to “hyper-customize” everything to reflect their personal brand. A “phigital” mindset whereby the worlds of physical and digital are equal, and “work culture” means engagement across device screens rather than at physical locations.

You also can anticipate fallout from Gen Z’s FOMO (fear of missing out). Often performing best when switching tasks frequently, they’ll try anything, so associations may finally pick up the pace on change-making.

Lastly, here’s the next word-of-the-year winner: weconomists. Why own when you can borrow, share, or rent? Your resourceful grandparents have morphed into Gen Zers who prize efficiency, convenience, and economy, and their tech savviness and creativity will save associations tremendous time and money.

What do Gen Zers expect in return? Respect—and a “happy, healthy family,” say the Stillmans.

If you aren’t already parenting teenagers, prepare for a lot of eye-openers.

[HarperBusiness; 320 pages; $28.99]

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

By Daniel Pink

This riveting examination of time and its role in all aspects of our work and personal lives will likely inspire you to restructure your behaviors completely. Broken into three parts and written with Pink's usual humor, the book explores such profound issues as when to quit your job, exercise, nap, marry, graduate, go first, go last, and drink coffee. On every subject, he and his data are powerfully persuasive.

Pink solves some of your organization’s biggest problems, such as calibrating time to motivate members to complete tasks (give short deadlines) and ensuring staff refresh during lunch breaks (provide autonomy and detachment).

Special attention is paid to the “trough,” the “most dangerous time of day”: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. During this period, spikes occur in medical mistakes, poor decision-making, and ethical lapses.

You’ll never do a wine tasting the same way again.

[Riverhead Books; 272 pages; $28]

Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking

By Jennifer Riel and Roger Martin

In a world weary of polarizing views, two Rotman School of Management professors give leaders an inspiring lesson in the mindful use of opposing opinions to solve complex problems, a process they call integrative thinking. The technique—described as “both an individual skill and a team sport”—requires four steps and a commitment to “generate a creative resolution of the tension” between either-or options in favor of a “third and better” answer. Using diverse case studies such as Tennis Canada and the Toronto District School Board, the authors methodically guide you through Articulating Opposing Models (stage one), Examining the Models (stage two), Exploring the Possibilities (stage three), and Assessing the Prototypes (stage four).

Excellent templates, worksheets, and experiments ease the process. Especially good for CEOs who lament a lack of “thinking time.”

[Harvard Business Review Press; 256 pages; $32]

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Next-Gen Workplace."] 

Kristin Clarke, CAE

Kristin Clarke, CAE, is president of Clarke Association Content and is the books columnist for Associations Now.