Give Effective Feedback to Millennials

November 1, 2010 | By Neil Howe

Many business owners have noticed that the new crop of young workers is different from previous generations and are adjusting their management styles accordingly. One key difference? Millennials expect constant feedback on their performance. Here’s how to make sure the feedback you provide them is effective:

1. Balance negatives with positives. Explain not just what employees are doing wrong, but what aspects of the job they are doing right. Millennials need to feel like valued team members, so emphasize how their work contributes to the group—and how, by making changes, they can contribute even more.

2. Be specific and behavioral. Boomers often approach problems holistically or theoretically. Millennials, who are far more focused on behavioral dos and don’ts, find this vague, confusing, and negative. Managers should offer detailed, specific instructions about how young employees can adjust their behavior to optimize performance.

3. Create a "co-solution." Millennials will respond well to having their input sought and valued, even in a conversation about poor performance. Rather than simply dictating, ask if they have any ideas about what they could do differently. Many will have constructive suggestions—and will be more motivated if they feel they are part of the solution.

4. Establish a follow-up regimen. Create a concrete plan for how employees will adjust their work, with measurable benchmarks along the way. Check in at regular intervals to make sure they stay on track with the plan. When you see specific improvements, let employees know you noticed and give positive feedback on the spot.

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