Blog Post

The Millennials Are Right: Continual Performance Feedback Works

Rita Trehan

Human Resources Consultant

As millennials continue to flood the workforce, one of the most obvious differences about the cohort is their constant need for performance feedback and continual reward. Standard annual reviews and rewards are not enough for this group of upstarts—managers cite that millennial employees want to check in at the end of every initiative and get feedback on how they performed.

Older workers don't understand this need for an open and consistent feedback loop. Historically, businesses have measured success on an annual level. In the past, developments and products took years to create so annual reviews were perfectly reasonable. But that's not the way things work anymore, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Here's why a quicker feedback cycle is not only good for employees, but also good for your company.

Innovate Faster

Today, information is the greatest commodity on the market and massive volumes of it are generated every second. To stay competitive in this fast-paced environment, companies must be ready to turn on a dime and take advantage of market opportunities that arise immediately.

Innovation must happen regularly, which means that products must be developed faster, skills must be deployed more swiftly and acumen must be gained at breakneck speed. It also means that feedback not given at the right moment could bring about the loss of competitive advantage.

Make Employees More Efficient

The opportunity cost of not giving timely feedback should not be under-estimated. Companies that grasp opportunities to course-correct and pivot quickly are, not surprisingly, market leaders. Why? Because immediate feedback and real-time coaching helps to avoid a situation in which employees or even whole are told that they "did not meet expectations." Not only is this personally demoralizing to employees, but it's also an incredible waste of a company's best resource—its people.

However, if leaders take the time to check-in regularly with their teams, they can avoid wasting the time it takes to reflect on unmet expectations, and instead create an opportunity to reassess expectations, clarify them to employees and ensure that they're met. I suspect that all employees, not just millennials, will appreciate a more frequent feedback exchange as well.

Better Match the Pace of Change In Business

Ultimately, as much as we might hate to admit it, millennials have a point. Opening a consistent performance loop is a smarter way to do business. Today, companies rise and fall faster than over the course of a year—it makes sense, therefore, to alter the performance review process accordingly as well.

Expectation setting is crucial, especially for this ambitious generation. Where promotions simply aren't available, other rewards can be created. And don't worry—you won't be stroking their egos. You're simply reminding them that their performance is noticed and valued.

Just because we've done things a certain way for a long time doesn't mean it's the way we should keep doing them. The world of business is information-based, and it's constantly changing. We must adjust our management, performance and reward systems accordingly. Speed matters now—let's be quick about praise and correction.

Photo: Creative Commons

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