Want to foster better collaboration with Generation Z?

Three happy GenZ together


As a mediation and negotiation specialist who assists leadership in various ways, I was recently called upon to promote better collaboration across generational differences. As a researcher, having written 12 books, contributed to 3 others, and written over 55 articles, I appreciated the challenge of researching and presenting on this topic.  Here are five key takeaways that I thought you might enjoy, too.  Coming together as a team and collaborating given differences is appealing.  It also results in people being more focused on the task, having more control over navigating difficult decisions, and more peace in their professional and personal lives.


Promoting strengths and prioritizing skills


Emotional intelligence incorporates understanding, using, and managing your emotions positively.  We have various emotional intelligence levels since we are all shaped by our knowledge and experiences.  The same is true for the skills we bring to the job. The question then becomes how to help build emotional intelligence and abilities for someone new to the workforce. It is essential not to be overwhelmed with data and information but to identify the critical vital strengths and skills and work on these first.  Give access to digital tools and platforms such as project management and communication tools and promote collaboration. It is essential not to be placed in a stovepipe and to encourage ways to connect and work with others to help learn the ropes and feel part of the team.


Mentorship and trust-building


A look at various sources promoting inclusion, diversity, and collaboration highlights the need for three types of mentors learning from CPA firms, law firms, and other professionals.  The three areas for regular mentorship are the on-the-job instructor (OJI), the visionary, and the practical application mentor.  The OJI is the traditional team lead or experienced person who explains how to do the job.  The visionary or visionaries may be one or two partners that meet with the new hire every week or a couple of weeks for an hour to answer questions, offer advice, and ensure things are running smoothly.  The practical application mentor is the person who knows how to get things done in the firm. This may be an administrative assistant or someone everyone knows who the go-to person is when you want to find out how to accomplish a task. All three are needed.

Take time for informal communication with an in-person or virtual coffee break, BS session, or group get-togethers that promote peer bonding, genuine friendships, authentic relationships, and collaboration. Allow new hires to join your recruiting networks to bring on board good potential hires.


Recognizing and promoting team success


Collaboration is about connecting authentic relationships, listening actively, and educating judiciously to promote understanding and negotiating closure. This must be learned and reinforced. There needs to be a clear link between the vision and overall goals reinforced through appreciation and recognition. Rewards can be both individual and shared.  Focus on what “we” accomplished as a team and why working together for organizational good is what matters. Promoting team success gives a sense of accomplishment and reinforces why someone would want to work in this collaborative environment.


Bringing people together face-to-face


Generation Z is very comfortable working with and adapting to technology.  One thing that may hinder development may be how to build in-person professional relationships.  Given Covid and virtual work environments, this can be a more significant challenge today. Training on personality types and differences, collaboration, conflict resolution, and team building are no longer soft but critical skills going forward. Those who can develop these skills are the leaders of the future. It is important to build meaningful face-to-face connections within teams. To hire, train, and retain the best, reach out, and ensure connectivity and skill enhancement through face-to-face interactions to build trust. Consider team lunches and other interactions periodically to help bring people together.


Promoting patience and persistence


In our society today, instant data, immediate gratification, and responses are often taken for granted. Setting realistic expectations and meaningful development and collaboration can go a long way toward understanding. Take big projects and break them into various milestones. Celebrate successes along the way. This can help promote patience and understanding. Focusing on the big picture and appreciating milestones can help reduce stress and encourage patience and persistence for the goal. This gained knowledge and experience can reinforce why the long-term view is the best course in the future.

An African Proverb states, " If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, partner with others.” The same holds true in business, too. Working together and keeping your eye on the prize for the long term will promote individual and organizational success.




The employer is interested in developing and applying the employee's skills by focusing on strengths and prioritizing technical and social skills.   Trust can be enhanced with appropriate mentors who will ensure that every opportunity is presented for development, given the competing priorities associated with customers, business results, and employee satisfaction.  Reinforcing collaboration and team success demonstrates how important these are to the organization's ultimate success. Find ways to bring people together face-to-face with training, social interaction, and creative ways to build bonds with each other.  Patience and persistence pay off in the long run.  Reinforce this to promote long-term gains.


Check out these links if you need assistance, want to learn more about collaboration and conflict resolution, or want to enhance your Servant Manager skills

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]