Feedback Gap: Feedback at Work Across Generations

Yes, this is another article that includes millennials in the workplace. This is not another article about how much they (or any other generation) are particularly horrible to work with. Actually, it’s about giving — and receiving — feedback across generations.

Feedback is imperative to growth, but personally and professionally. It is far more socially appropriate to ask for feedback at work now than it used to be, though how each generation prefers to supply and receive feedback can differ.

Every generation in the workplace has distinctive identifying characteristics. For example, “traditionalists” are seen as rigid, silent performers, while “millennials” are commonly viewed as flaky yet technologically savvy. These perceptions cloud judgment and can lead to communication problems — which can (and does) interfere with the ability to accept and provide meaningful developmental feedback at work.

Though these suggestions are based on broad generalizations, here are some suggestions for giving feedback that work with each of these generations:

Feedback for Generation Y/“Millennials” (Born between 1981 and 2000)
Millennials like to give and receive effective feedback, as they enjoy feeling like they’re shaping their work environments and have some degree of control over their growth and professional development.

All instances of constructive feedback should be posed as growth opportunities, as Millennials tend to dislike feeling criticized or confronted. Do your best to provide individualized feedback to your employees of this generation and necessary redirection as often as needed, otherwise workers from this generation may believe their performance is either undervalued or continue executing tasks in error due to lack of awareness and corrective feedback.

Feedback for Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980)
Gen-X-ers like to give and receive effective feedback, as they enjoy feeling like they’re shaping their work environments and have some degree of control over their growth and professional development.

All instances of constructive feedback should be posed as growth opportunities, as X-ers tend to dislike feeling criticized or confronted. Do your best to provide individualized feedback to your employees of this generation and necessary redirection as often as needed, otherwise workers from this generation may believe their performance is either undervalued or continue executing tasks in error due to lack of awareness and corrective feedback.

Feedback for Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)Baby Boomers like to give and receive effective feedback, as they enjoy feeling like they’re shaping their work environments and have some degree of control over their growth and professional development.

All instances of constructive feedback should be posed as growth opportunities, as Boomers tend to dislike feeling criticized or confronted. Do your best to provide individualized feedback to your employees of this generation and necessary redirection as often as needed, otherwise workers from this generation may believe their performance is either undervalued or continue executing tasks in error due to lack of awareness and corrective feedback.

…Get it yet?

Maybe there are generational gaps. But there are some processes that work universally. Sure, there are personal preferences, but feedback is ultimately a process that crosses generational boundaries- If it works for Gen-Xers, it will likely work for Millennials.

To close the gap, take a look at behaviors first so your employees can derive meaning from expanding their skills and strive to improve their performance and master new domains.

Feedback is the bedrock of high-performance organizations and outstanding workplace cultures. Want to learn more about how feedback shapes your company and best practices?

Check us out at www.rhabit.co, drop us a comment, or send us a message!

Until then, with data-driven love,
The Team at Rhabit