We recently wrote about things young employees should consider when asking for feedback. But, as with most struggles in life:
There are two sides to this coin.
If you manage people, I can almost guarantee you have as many frustrations with giving Millennials feedback as they do with getting it.
Like it or not, though, figuring out how to address this challenge will be mandatory if we're going to make sure the next generation of leaders – those who will be taking over our businesses and organizations in the next 10-15 years – are successful.
So, without any further ado, I implore you to consider these five things when giving feedback to your employees:
1. the demand for feedback is your fault.
Now, to an extent, I say that in jest – but not totally! If you're an older Gen Xer or Baby Boomer with children, let me ask you this: how many of you went to every sporting event your child was involved in? Band concert? Play? Dance recital? Quiz bowl? How many of you gave your kid(s) input on what activities to participate in at school? What college to go to? What person to date or marry?
Chances are – a lot of you.
Parents have been raising children who crave feedback for the last 20-30 years. It's not a good or bad thing – it just is.
What I encourage you to think about is not where to place blame, but rather what to do now? Young people have been raised to see feedback as a must-have for their entire lives. You aren't going to change them, but you can adapt and adjust for the good of everyone involved.
2. How can you point out the good stuff?
If you've never heard of the Negativity Bias in psycology, here's a quick snapshot: as human beings, when given an equal number of experiences, we weigh negative ones way, way heavier than positive ones. It's how we made sure not to get eaten by mountain lions back in our caveman days. It's also why we tend to focus mostly on the criticism we receive, even when it's sandwiched between positive feedback.
Consider that the next time you give your young team members feedback and try to follow the 80:20 rule – make sure 80% of your comments are positive and 20% are constructive. By doing that, you can help build their confidence and make them more receptive to hearing what they can work on.
3. This is your golden opportunity!
If you've been one of the many (many, many) people to describe Millennials as lazy or entitled (or worse), here's your shot to fix it! Using the 20% constructive feedback we allotted in #2, provide real insight into what's not going well (never reward poor performance) and offer realistic steps for improvement.
Just make sure they know you're there to support them every step of the way – you want them to succeed and they should be aware of that.
4. Not providing regular input is doing them a disservice.
You may be used to having a boss who only talks to you when things are going poorly, but today's generation has had the exact opposite experience – they assume that if they don't hear from you, they've screwed something up. They've been raised to understand that silence means nothing good.
We know that you hired this person because you're confident in their abilities and know they can do the job, but you still have to provide feedback often. It doesn't have to be complex – shoot them an email or a text every couple of days, schedule a regular status call or meeting with them to check-in, drop them a note when you think they did something really well.
Just don't let your lack of feedback erode their confidence in their abilities – that doesn't work out well for them, for you or for the future of your organization and industry.
5. Giving feedback isn't just for Millennials!
Thanks to social media and a shift in our society toward more instant gratification, there's a good chance that everyone in your organization – from Millennials to Traditionalists – would like more feedback on how they're doing and how they can contribute to reaching organizational goals . Practicing this skill and giving more frequent input could help everyone on your team be more successful.
And isn't that the goal?
Feedback doesn't have to be this needy, scary thing. It can be a valuable tool for making progress – both individuallly, as a team and as an organization. Next time you're getting frustrated about giving feedback, remember to think:
- Young employees want feedback for a reason – they were raised that way
- Use the 80:20 rule to focus on the good stuff, along with constructive criticism
- This is my opportunity to change the lazy, entitled stereotype!
- Not providing regular feedback will hurt – not help – my young employees
- And, finally, giving feedback helps everyone
If you want to better understand the generational dynamics affecting the workplace today and get more tips on how to address it, take a look at our Thriving Across Generations workshop or keynote presentation.
If you'd like additional help making sure your team has the feedback they need to be successful, check out our training+coaching programs: Millennial Mastermind and the Agribusiness Relationship Mastery Experience.
Feedback isn't always easy – but it's necessary. Good luck!