Leadership guides that provide advice on effectively managing Millennials in today’s workplace often focus on the use of technology. While this is important, as Millennials are famously known as “digital natives,” the focus shouldn’t be as much on the devices and platforms themselves but more on what managers can accomplish with their use. An often overlooked aspect of this is the provision of real-time feedback.
Millennials are uniquely focused on feedback, and managers who want to ensure that they connect with these employees need to incorporate a feedback loop into their company culture. After all, a major facet of growing up as a part of this generation is social media and its interconnectedness, a continuous giving and receiving of reactions and responses. As a result, Millennials have come to expect this in every area of their lives. In fact, a recent Gallup report found that Millennials typically need more feedback than their colleagues in other demographics.
Yet, the same report says the overwhelming majority of workplaces fail to provide the feedback these young workers crave: Only 19 percent say they receive routine feedback. This lack of feedback can quickly translate into an employee engagement issue, but the flip-side is also true; According to Gallup, Millennials who receive frequent feedback are twice as likely to be engaged at work as peers who don’t.
So, what can managers who want to maximize engagement among their Millennial team members do?
Check-in often: Whether employees are onsite or working from home, it’s important to make feedback a part of the daily routine. Celebrate wins with employees, and provide constructive criticism when they’ve missed the mark. Let them know what’s happening. Don’t save feedback for an annual or semi-annual review, but rather share thoughts on performance on an on-going basis.
Provide a peer-to-peer platform: While management feedback is crucial, multidirectional learning and encouragement are also important. A private page on Facebook or membership in a group on another social media platform is a great way for Millennials and employees of any age to share tips, collaborate on projects or just chat in a virtual “water cooler” setting. This helps staff stay connected even if they work remotely.
Give Millennials a purpose: More than any other generational group, Millennials like to feel as if they’re a part of something larger than themselves. Managers should clearly articulate the company’s values, vision and mission and identify each team member’s role in fulfilling them. It’s also important to incorporate these messages into the feedback employees receive.
Managers who want to make sure their Millennial employees succeed should always be proactive. It starts with building a responsive workplace culture where employees understand their role in driving organizational progress and routinely receive feedback, including both constructive criticism and encouragement for a job well done. The leaders who check in often (ideally every day), facilitate peer-to-peer interactions and incorporate their organization’s values into their routine communications will create the type of feedback loop in which this generation thrives.
By empowering Millennials through feedback that taps their creativity and energy, managers can ensure that the company continues to thrive as well.