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Focus on this aspect of workplace culture if you’re trying to hire top talent

Millennials are hungry for feedback. Two Temple professors explain how to respond.

This is what 52 companies trying to capture talent looks like. (Photo by Catherine Sontag)

This is the second article in a series about current trends in the workplace, based on research done by Temple professors Michael Rivera and Tony Petrucci. Read the first story here.

While there are many perceptions about millennials, including the idea that they possess a lack of engagement and loyalty, they currently represent over 40 percent of the workforce. This has organizations feverishly working to better understand how to attract, motivate and retain millennials. However, recent Gallup research, entitled “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” offers enlightening perspectives which includes information that millennials are very demanding, but not naturally disloyal or lazy.

So, what do millennials want? They want much more frequent feedback, better quality feedback, work that has purpose and a coach, not a boss, according to management consultant Mark Crowley. Given this, we see many companies are drastically and quickly revamping their thinking and processes around organizational feedback.

Millennials are the most tech-savvy working generation ever. They think about communication differently and are comfortable communicating important and emotional information electronically. In our extensive work with millennials, we have found that they do want frequent feedback and they are very questioning of the quality of the feedback they’re getting. We have also found that they have some of the same feedback resistance filters that are common to other generations, as well.

So, what should we do? We need to continue the change to make organizational feedback more continuous in real time. It needs to be competency-based so the feedback has meaning and can drive organizational performance. It needs to be technology-enabled to facilitate communication and complement face-to-face feedback.

Additionally, we must ensure that the foundation for feedback has been clearly laid out or risk facing feedback execution issues that organizations have historically encountered. One should understand the foundational aspects of feedback – how to give, how to receive and how to invite. Without the foundation in place, you are putting someone out there without knowing how to effectively build a culture of feedback and develop others and themselves. Feedback given the wrong way or that is not growth oriented could be a detriment to all involved. Just because millennials want more feedback doesn’t mean they are prepared to give it effectively or receive it effectively without a clear foundation in place.


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