3 hours. That’s how long I block off twice a year to provide feedback for each of my direct reports. One hour for prep, one hour for the discussion and one hour to summarize the discussion and map out next steps. That was great when I was first getting into management and had two direct reports. Now that I have 19, I am dedicating roughly two weeks of time to formal performance reviews each year. I have to wonder: Is that the best use of my time, and is the work that I am doing on these reviews translating into something meaningful for my team? Can someone consume that much information in one sitting and act on it?
One of the steps I take during my prep hour is to look back at past reviews – and too often, I realize that we didn’t take any of the steps that had been discussed. All of that time is wasted if they weren’t able to take the feedback and change or enhance their performance based on it.
I like to think that this is the reason Millennials increasingly want more frequent feedback – but is it really, or is it more a product of when they grew up? Millennials have received a constant flow of information throughout their entire lives, from text messages to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
In Universum’s global survey of Millennials and their feedback expectations, it is not surprising to see that nearly 50 percent expect feedback from their managers. What may be surprising for some are the expectations of the Millennials in terms of feedback frequency: A staggering 93 percent expect feedback at least once a month, with some 25 percent expecting feedback more or less instantly or every day. The 20-somethings grew up with driven, goal-oriented parents who coached and helped them…constantly.
And let’s be honest, when they say they want feedback, they really mean positive feedback. Have you ever seen a social media site with a dislike button? A major stereotype is that Millennial employees tend to have a high sense of entitlement. Blame their hovering “helicopter parents,” who told them they could do whatever they put their minds to. As a result, this generation tends not to take criticism very well – so if you want them to listen, don’t dwell on the negative aspects of a Millennial’s performance. Use the structure of “you did that task well, and here are two suggestions for doing it even better next time.” Take particular notice to the AND: it’s not BUT. Saying “but” will rob a person from appreciating everything you said before it.
Imagine Facebook for feedback…frequent updates that are short, to the point, full of likes and just a few comments. Facebook is the company that was built by Millennials for Millennials, and so it is no surprise that the company uses a real- time, cloud-based feedback platform on Work.com for giving its own employees feedback. While the time and expense of using such a solution may not be warranted in companies with a more typical spread of employee ages, some form of feedback on a weekly or monthly basis is key to keeping the 20-somethings happy. Remember, 93 percent expect feedback at least once a month. This feedback can be delivered via a face-to-face interaction, but 20-somethings are the texting generation, and so some form of digital communication may be the new way forward.