As Generation Z (Gen Zers,the oldest of whom are age 28) continues to rise in the ranks of the workforce, more of these young employees are gaining management positions at their companies.

To understand how Gen Z managers contribute to their companies, surveyed 873 business leaders in May.

Key findings:

  • 18% of business leaders are unlikely to hire a Gen Z manager
  • 1 in 4 believe Gen Z managers are less competent than older generations
  • 20% say Gen Zers are ineffective leaders
  • 12% of business leaders have demoted, fired a Gen Z manager
  • Almost all business leaders have received complaints about Gen Z managers from their direct reports
  • Majority of business leaders believe Gen Z managers need additional training

1 in 8 Business Leaders Have Had a Negative Experience Working With Gen Z Managers

Among business leaders who have worked with a Gen Z manager, 14% had a negative experience. Reasons for this include poor communication (72%), lacking good leadership skills (61%), inexperience (61%), inefficiency (53%), disorganization (45%), informality (34%), and rudeness (33%).

1 in 5 business leaders say Gen Z managers are ineffective leaders

Many business leaders believe Gen Z managers are ineffective at handling conflict (29%), leading (21%), making decisions (20%), communicating (18%), delegating (16%), adapting to change (13%), and collaborating (13%).

1 in 4 business leaders say Gen Z managers are less competent than older generations

A total of 27% believe Gen Zers are less competent than older generations, while 37% think they are more competent, and 31% say there is no difference.

“Good management is a combination of training and experience. Experience takes time, but doesn’t always mean they are a better manager,” says Resume Builder’s Resume and Career Strategist Julia Toothacre. “Many millennials have left positions because of their manager, who is usually in the baby boomer age range.”

“I’m sure some Gen Z managers have management experience, but that doesn’t mean they received the right training. This isn’t about being less competent; it’s a difference in experience and, likely, approach. All the reasons cited about why Gen Z is ineffective at managing can be trained. I would implore companies to look at the expectations and training available to managers before they start firing.”

1 in 2 Business Leaders Say Gen Z Managers Have Faced Professional Consequences at Their Company

Nearly half (48%) of business leaders say Gen Z managers have faced negative consequences in the workplace.

These consequences for Gen Z managers included placement on a performance improvement plan (PIP, 50%), increased supervision (49%), probation (48%), meetings with senior management (48%), demotion (35%), and firing (35%).

Business leaders report that many Gen Z managers were demoted due to their shortcomings in their positions. They were demoted because they were inefficient (67%), were too informal (61%), had poor communication skills (60%), were rude (58%), and lacked good leadership skills (44%).

“Before they get into management, Gen Z needs to make sure there is training in place to ensure their approach aligns with the organization’s expectations,” explains Toothacre. “From there, they should be meeting regularly with their manager to check in, ask questions, and continue learning. Self-awareness is also a key component. It’s helpful to take time to assess your own skills and be honest about where there needs to be additional growth and learning.”

“If you’re already in a situation where a demotion or PIP is imminent, ask for specific examples to help you understand what you could have done differently or what the expectation was. From there, take the situation seriously and ask if there is additional training available in the areas of critique. If you’re not interested in staying with the company, then take the feedback and apply it in your next position.”

9 in 10 Business Leaders Receive Complaints About Gen Z Managers

Business leaders report receiving complaints from Gen Z managers’ direct reports very often (13%), often (17%), or sometimes (33%). On the other hand, 38% say they rarely receive complaints, and only 7% never receive complaints.

Issues brought forth in these complaints include inexperience (48%), inefficiency (27%), poor communication skills (30%), poor leadership skills (32%), being too informal (39%), disorganization (31%), and rudeness (30%).

Additionally, business leaders report that, due to problems with their Gen Z manager, direct reports changed teams (36%), requested mediation or conflict resolution (35%), filed a formal complaint (31%), requested a new manager (30%), threatened to quit (29%), and have quit (20%).

Majority of business leaders say Gen Z managers need additional training

Business leaders believe Gen Z managers would benefit from leadership training (65%), professional development courses (57%), mentorship programs (55%), communication skills workshops (52%), conflict resolution training (46%), regular performance reviews (44%), and better time management (43%). Only 3% think no training or development programs are needed.

“All managers, not just Gen Z, would benefit from formal and ongoing training programs,” says Toothacre. “The survey shows that business leaders recognize the need for training; now they need to put the funds behind it. If 20% of your people are quitting because of management issues, then something needs to change.”

1 in 6 Business Leaders Are Unlikely To Hire a Gen Z Manager

Overall, many leaders (18%) say they are unlikely to hire a Gen Z manager, while 61% say they are likely to, and 20% are neutral.

Business leaders who say they are unlikely to hire Gen Z managers report this is due to the generation’s inexperience (82%), lack of good leadership skills (40%), poor communication skills (31%), inefficiency (27%), informal behavior (26%), and rudeness (16%).


This survey was commissioned by and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on May 31, 2024. Overall, 873 business leaders completed the survey.

To qualify for the survey, all participants had to be over 25, have a household income of at least $75,000, have an education level above high school, be a business leader (organizational role: owner / partner, president/CEO/chairperson, C-level executive, chief financial officer, chief technology officer,  senior management, director, HR manager), and work at a company with more than 10 employees.

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