Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever, with a mix of Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and the newest entrants – Gen Z. This diversity requires a different approach to leadership to ensure the success of the business of tomorrow. One such concept that has gained traction recently is the “8-second filter.” Let’s explore what the 8-second filter is, why it is important for business leaders and HR teams, and how understanding this concept can improve leadership and upskilling efforts across all generations.
The 8-Second Attention Span of Gen Z
Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, has grown up in an era of rapidly evolving technology and constant digital exposure (Pew Research Center, 2019). This has resulted in a generation with an average attention span of just 8 seconds (Microsoft Canada, 2015). While this may seem alarming, it’s crucial to understand that this 8-second attention span is not a limitation but rather an adaptive skill developed in response to the vast amount of information and stimuli they are exposed to daily.
The 8-Second Filter: A New Perspective on Attention
Instead of viewing Gen Z’s 8-second attention span as a drawback, it’s more accurate to call it the “8-second filter.” This concept acknowledges that Gen Z has developed the ability to quickly assess whether a piece of information is worth their attention or not. In other words, they have learned to filter out what they believe is irrelevant data and focus on what truly matters (Prezi, 2018). This skill has become increasingly important in today’s fast-paced, information-saturated world.
Implications for Leaders and Managers
The 8-second filter offers valuable insights for business leaders and HR teams to effectively lead and upskill their teams. By understanding this concept, you can adapt your communication and management strategies to better engage with your workforce, particularly the Gen Z employees.
Clarity and conciseness: When presenting information or giving instructions, be clear and concise. Gen Z values efficiency and appreciates when the message is conveyed without unnecessary fluff.
Visual communication: Gen Z has a strong preference for visual communication (Prezi, 2018). Utilize infographics, videos, and other visual aids to keep them engaged and simplify complex ideas.
Offer continuous learning opportunities: Gen Z is a highly curious generation and values personal growth (LinkedIn, 2020). Providing regular learning opportunities that are easily accessible and engaging will not only capture their attention but also help them develop professionally.
Embrace technology: Gen Z is digitally native, and integrating technology into your leadership and management approach will help connect with them and enhance collaboration and productivity.
While Gen Z may be leading the world in utilizing the 8-second filter, it is crucial to recognize that this skill is becoming increasingly relevant for all generations. Adapting leadership strategies to harness the power of the 8-second filter, in particular, the upskill of learning to prioritize, can benefit not only Gen Z employees but the entire workforce.
Understanding the 8-second filter is essential for business leaders and HR teams looking to lead and upskill their teams effectively. By adapting your leadership approach to accommodate the unique characteristics of Gen Z into your strategies, you’ll create an environment that fosters growth, productivity, and success for all generations in your workforce.