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CIOs and centennials: Working with ‘natural digital connectors’

CIOs and centennials: Working with ‘natural digital connectors’

CIOs who know how to retain, inspire and lead Gen Zers will reap the rewards from their hard work, passion and disruptive ideas

Daniel Sanchez Reina and Janelle Hill, Gartner

Generation Z or Gen Z, those born from 1995 through 2010, are about to enter the workforce.

They are also called centennials, being the first generation born into the new century. 

They are “natural digital connectors”, says Gartner, in a new research that focuses on this group. 

“CIOs who know how to retain, inspire and lead Gen Zers will reap the rewards from their hard work, passion and disruptive ideas,” note Gartner analysts Daniel Sanchez Reina and Janelle Hill, authors of the research.  

This generation does not have to be trained to think “digital”, according to the research authors. “Their natural mindset is digital.”

Gartner says the research is based on the statistical generational traits of Gen Z, along with the behaviours showed at work by the small sample of Gen Z individuals in the workplace.

“Many CIOs believe that Gen Z employees will perpetuate the idealistic behavior of millennials,” the Gartner analysts write in Gen Z: How to Lead These Natural Digital Connectors. 

This misperception risks not realising the magnificent talent of this new generation.”

They state that centennials are the natural connectors from within the enterprise to the digital society. 

They are best-positioned generationally to anticipate the needs of constituents and consumers in the digital society, they point out.

“Even if they can’t anticipate needs, they are certainly positioned well to judge the potential value of digital products and services being envisioned.”

Because of these, Gartner predicts that through 2025, centennials will be best able to anticipate digitalised capabilities that will be valued by digital society.

I knew our IT transformation was working when they started knocking on our doors and coming to work with us, because they were curious

Asia Pacific bank CIO

So how can CIOs work with this group?

First, CIOs have to become “digitally dexterous” to gain credibility and respect among Gen Z, according to the Gartner research.

CIOs who want to leverage this newest digital talent will also have to adjust their management practices.

Gen Z wants to know from the start what they can contribute to the organisation, the different experiences they will have, their mentors, their career progression plan and how this links to financial rewards.

“Provide as much autonomy as possible to Gen Z employees by allowing remote work and letting them learn through mistakes,” they advise.

“Where the centennials have a presence, limit bureaucracy to the minimum necessary, speed up decision making and allow a reasonable degree of self-directed work.”

Gartner says CIOs can ask centennials to provide suggestions on how to improve security and data privacy. “Consider asking them to act as internal hackers of these domains.” 

They can also be asked to provide feedback on corporate policies, guidelines, and employee training and certification procedures related to privacy, security, diversity and corporate asset protections. 

CIOs can then share this feedback with finance, legal and HR leaders.

As the CIO of a major Asia Pacific bank told Gartner: “I wanted to attract the generation or digital talent who would naturally gravitate to startups or not-for-profits. I knew our IT transformation was working when they [centennials] started knocking on our doors and coming to work with us, because they were curious.” 

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Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz @divinap


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