Over the last couple of years, millennials now constitute a significant share of the workforce in most organisations. This trend is also backed by research.
"Generations In The Workplace", a 2013 survey that examines the convergence of Baby Boomers, Generation X & Millennials (aka Gen Y) in today's business environment highlights the following facts:
"The fastest growing age segment of the workforce is composed of workers born after 1980, or the Millennials. Composing around 25 percent of the workforce today, it is expected to grow to reach 75 percent of the workforce by 2025."
When it comes to providing feedback, most companies fall short. They typically use the yearly performance review as the primary conduit to offer comprehensive observations and set goals. This management style needs to evolve!
While criticism is crucial to the workers from all generations, managers need to pay particular attention to these cohorts (who are tech-savvy and hyper-connected) and understand that they need immediate acknowledgement.
Furthermore, there's also a slight misalignment with regards to what "feedback" actually means. Most supervisors define it in terms of weekly, monthly or yearly reviews, while Gen Y, on the other hand, are looking for slight cues that let them know whether or not they're on the right path.
To get on the same page, here are some thought starters to ensure that managers are giving the right kind of critique to their young workers.
1) Always relate your feedback to a process
As opposed to giving millennials praise for a single accomplishment (which implies that they totally get it and have little or no room to learn), what you should do instead is to relate your evaluation to a process of next steps. This way they'll be able to be proactive and think ahead.
2) Be consistent
As a way to appeal to their peculiar characteristic, make sure that you give your millennial workforce ongoing critique (which can be casual) about the work they're doing. This way, when it is time for the formal review, your comments don't come as a surprise to them.
3) Incorporate a system-generated approach
It is a known fact that millennials have a need to quantify their lives. This characteristic of quantification is popularised by social media where there's a constant race to accumulate a collective number of "likes" or "re-tweets" as an indicator of popularity or some other intangible significance.
Managers can incorporate this peculiarity into their management style by making something like "work progress" another set of actions that the Gen Y age group can quantify and continuously work towards.
4) Take a 360 view of feedback
The primary goal here is not to rely solely on annual performance reviews. Managers need to be open to numerous tactics and avenues that afford them the ability to provide Generation Y ongoing and transparent feedback.