One of the top objections I hear after speaking to an audience is how overly sensitive Millennials are to receiving criticism from their managers. Many Millennials have had a childhood chock-full of successes, and often the first failure they encounter is at work which leaves the responsibility on managers to deliver the appropriate feedback.
Even the classic "feedback sandwich"--constructive or negative feedback sandwiched between positive feedback--is hard to swallow for many Millennials...which is ironic since they are the foodie generation.
So what's a manager of Millennials to do? Especially since Millennials want feedback 50% more often than other employees.
Mark Elliott, the President of Hodges Ward Elliott--a leading real estate firm, specializing in hotel M&A, public-to-private advisement, investment sales, debt and equity raises, creative capital structuring and cross-boarder investments--recently shared with me how their organization has adjusted to make delivering feedback to Millennials a breeze.
When asked how Hodges Ward Elliott delivers feedback and reviews to their "Millennial-ized" workforce, Elliott stated, "We have Millennials do their own reviews." Millennials first spend time evaluating their own performance and than bring their own feedback to a meeting with their manager. This transforms the manager into a coach.
Simple, yet powerful.
Millennials respond better to coaching than they do to managing. Executive coach Ed Batista defines coaching as a "style of management characterized by asking questions." Purposeful and poignant questions cultivate a dynamic learning session that enables a direct report to grow through self-reflection. Coaching questions ultimately empower someone to look internally for solutions on their own and to change actions in the moment.
Effective coaches ask the right questions that allow the individual to reflect and discover the answer on their own, ultimately empowering them to look internally to find the solutions next time they find themselves in a similar situation.
Elliott discovered three benefits as a result of allowing Millennials to perform their own reviews.
1. Millennials are more critical.
When evaluating their own results, Millennials are more critical of their performance than a manager would be. This behavior surprises many managers as it demonstrates Millennials' deep desire to succeed and work hard.
2. Ownership is taken.
After spending time self-reflecting upon their past performance, Millennials are forced to take ownership of their mistakes and shortcomings. The organization and manager benefit as the Millennial begins to develop the self-evaluation muscle that can be flexed in real-time creating a more productive and dependent worker.
3. Managers turn into encouragers.
Since Millennials are bringing their own assessment to the table during a review, it allows the manager to affirm the positives and encourage them in the areas where the Millennial highlighted a weakness. This makes the review process a much more pleasant experience for both parties--not to mention time saving for the manager--and positions the manager as an inspiring coach instead of a nitpicking boss.