Our second article in the Millennial myth-busting series focuses on a common misconception. It tackles the myth that Millennials do not have the resilience to deal with criticism or delayed gratification at work.
“For any small task completed or target met, Millennials expect pronounced appreciation and praise. They want to see instant results when they are working on an assignment, and are not willing to dedicate long hours to extensively study the subject at hand. Additionally, they expect a promotion every now and then, or threaten to resign from the job. Basically, Millennials have no sense of commitment either to their employer or the team that they are working with.”
Millennials want regular feedback
When Millennials expect frequent communication from senior executives, it is often assumed to be a manifestation of attention seeking or self importance. Like many assumptions, this is patently false.
To understand what is going on here, companies need to realise that Millennials have grown up in a culture of constant ‘feedback or ‘approval’ through social networking sites like Facebook, where every social outing or life event is shared with others to be validated by ‘likes.’ Similarly, almost everything they interact with on a daily basis is ranked or rated; restaurants on Tripadvisor; products on Amazon; and their driver on Uber. It is no surprise that Millennials want a similar interaction even at the workplace, with active advice, regular ratings, and feedback from management.
If it seems like Millennials want ‘quick results’ from their work, it is not because they do not have the patience to see a project through to its end. Millennials have grown up in a much faster-paced and more competitive world than older generations. Baby boomers could graduate from school at 16 and get a decent job. Nowadays you could graduate with a top Masters degree or PhD and still face uncertain job prospects. Due to this, Millennials realise that if they are to succeed, there is no room for procrastination or slow work.
In a world where information is available freely to all, they realise it is important to speed up processes and tasks, in order to clinch success before someone else does. Millennials want to get better and more efficient at the job they do; eventually producing the same result within a shorter timespan or scale of effort. This is to keep up with the intense competition that they have grown up with. The traditional framework of annual performance reviews are highly outdated for the current workplace, and employers should offer feedback systems with shorter time periods. Millennials believe that waiting for twelve months to know whether a job was done effectively is a waste of an opportunity to learn and improve. This is a positive trait, and should be more widely acknowledged by employers. Millennials should be offered regular feedback about their performance, which can help them develop expertise in their domain much faster.
In fact, most employers are lagging far behind when it comes to providing employees useful feedback.
Millennials appreciate being mentored
It is clear from the above chart that most Millennials would prefer monthly feedback; a much higher proportion than non-Millennials. Additionally, the same study revealed that Millennials believe their best source of development is their manager, but only 46% agreed that their managers delivered on their expectations for feedback. This indicates that Millennials desire to be coached and mentored, and seek professional development at work. Despite this, few companies actually provide feedback at monthly intervals.
However, this change is fairly simple to implement. According to leadership development expert Joseph Folkman, Millennials seek an inspiring coach who is able to provide a vision, enhance relationships, drive positive results and serve as an exemplary role model. This is an excellent trait seen in Millennials, as it encourages the organization to strengthen internal communication and have a crystal clear vision of what the company’s goals are. Needless to say, this leads to creating a sense of overall unity and team spirit within all employees. As poetically described by leadership consultant Simon Sinek in his book Leaders Eat Last, when trust and cooperation thrive internally at the workplace, employees pull together and the organization grows stronger as a result.
Millennials wish to have dynamic career growth, and want the opportunity to use their leadership skills fairly early in their career. Interestingly, the workplace demographic has changed drastically, and now over 50% of the global workforce constitutes of Millennials. This workforce desperately needs ambitious leadership, and the senior executives produced by the typically slow hierarchical ‘career ladder’ are simply too few to lead so many young workers. Therefore, it would greatly benefit an employer to allow Millennials to take up leadership or managerial roles early on, by offering promotions based on an employee’s performance rather than time served at the company.
What you can do to make your company Millennial-friendly:
Detailed, regular performance feedback: The best way for you to implement the change needed is to first and foremost increase the frequency and quality of feedback and guidance provided to employees. This offers Millennials the opportunity to communicate better with seniors, and receive advice on how to do their job better. Regular feedback will allow employees to feel more connected to their job and will also hone them to eventually become strong leaders within the organization.
Offer leadership opportunities: Due to the demographic shift of more Millennials entering the workforce, the conventional career ladder is too slow to create enough senior leaders in time. This means that companies should start identifying leadership abilities in Millennials early on, and encourage them to take up leadership roles based on their performance and not solely their age. As Millennials feel more motivated when they are able to set their own goals and encouraged to achieve them, it would be in both the organization’s and employee’s interest to offer more leadership opportunities.
If you are interested in providing constant feedback to your employees, and understanding how engaged your Millennials are, our class-leading Engagement and Performance Management Platform can definitely help. Feel free to drop us a line!