In 2015 millennials became the majority of the US labor force and in 2020 they’ll go on to dominate the global workforce. This means that it’s more than likely that baby boomers and Generation Xers will find themselves in management positions leading full teams of millennials, or even be working alongside them as peers. Adopting a more open feedback based culture will help employees bridge the gap. Follow these steps to introduce your new feedback culture to older generations of workers:
1. Explain the value of feedback
As with any major shift in the workplace, you should always explain to your employees why the change is taking place and what the benefits and expectations are. For older employees this may be even more important. While feedback is not a new concept to them, the idea of giving upward feedback often seems like a foreign concept. Explain why making feedback a formal part of the process is important and how managers can benefit from employee feedback.
2. Don’t let generational stereotypes cloud your thinking
There are many stereotypes about the typical baby boomer, Gen X and millennial employee. It’s important to remember that these are simply stereotypes. Don’t be surprised to find that other generations actually want feedback and appreciate receiving feedback just as much as millennials. The major difference is that, having more years of work experience, older generations may be more confident in their abilities and will therefore ask for it less than their younger colleagues.
3. Give them ownership
One of the best things about giving employees ownership of feedback is that they can set the pace. With tools like Impraise, employees have the power to ask for and give feedback when and how often they want. This is also helpful for Gen X managers, as it allows their millennial reports let them know when they need feedback, bridging generational divides. The option for anonymity also makes it easier to give upward feedback, making the transition smoother.
At the same time, keep in mind generational differences in the mode of giving feedback. PWC found that 41% of millennials prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face to face. Keep in mind that while millennials may adopt a new tool easily, it may take more time for other generations to adjust to new workplace technology. The key here is again to properly explain the benefits of using technology to give more feedback. It should not be framed as a tool simply to satisfy the needs of millennials. Instead, explain how it will help them stay on top of feedback, even while they’re on the go, and help them easily store and track their feedback over time.
Photo by Camille Kimberley