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Millennial Minute: Giving and Receiving Feedback

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Giving and Receiving

Just like that, we are back! I hope your week has been positive and productive thus far. Welcome to another week of the Millennial Minute. Today we are talking feedback, which for some is easier to give than receive.

I thought about this topic last week when working with our interns. They are passionate, driven, and have truly embraced everything the future of this industry has to offer! We will chat about the importance of internships another week. But I will say, internships are like best friends, don’t leave college without one, or two!

Back to our interns. They are wrapping up for the semester, so last week I sent out instructions for their final project, asked for a draft copy by the end of the week, and emailed them both to stop by my office to review and get feedback. I got the following quick replies from each of them: “I’m way off aren’t I?” and “My ideas were whack, right?” Whoa! How did I somehow become the bearer of bad news simply because I called them in for feedback only to enhance their project and to gain useful advice? This also isn’t the first time they have responded in that manner. So I thought, where does that immediate feeling of negativity come from when we hear the word feedback? And really, what is feedback?

#TBT to early twenties Britt. I asked myself, was I that cautious when I heard the word feedback from a supervisor? I know I was always ready and open to feedback and I knew it could go either way, but I never walked into feedback assuming it was negative. I think that is a key difference from myself and our younger Millennial interns. I grew up craving the need for feedback in order to grow and also understood that feedback is/should not always be negative. That could be from my upbringing but at the end of the day, feedback is beneficial for many reasons:

  • It can motivate you. Being able to receive and give feedback shows value. You feel valued because someone took time out for you specifically.
  • It facilitates continued learning, and we all know being a career learning is essential to growth, professionally and personally.
  • It can also improve or help correct performance. This is not to be confused with criticism, which is not effective feedback! In the times in my career that someone sat me down to give me feedback on performance, I was able to improve or correct instantly. How can you learn and move on from something if you did not know?

These benefits also extend to the employer. As one article said, “Often decried as the “everybody gets a trophy” generation, millennials’ need for feedback and recognition can, in fact, have a positive impact on companies. It ensures that complacency doesn’t set in and has forced some companies to become more merit-based than their hierarchical corporate predecessors.” Source

To my Generation – Let’s talk about tips to receive feedback.

  1. Ask for it, especially if it’s important to you. And honestly, it should be. I get sick of hearing that our generation is too thin-skinned and too entitled for feedback. I don’t believe that we cannot humble ourselves and get past feedback fear to receive open, honest, and constructive feedback. It makes you better!
  2. Embrace it with a positive and open mindset. It’s not some career death march, it should be in place to facilitate growth and development.
  3. Accept it, and realize that everything is not a personal attack. Cues inner Monica, “Don’t take it personal.” Know this, feedback should never be a personal attack. If it is that may need to be addressed. Different discussion for a different day.

Now, to my fellow Employers – Ask yourself, have you been coached on how to give effective feedback? When I was first asked this in an Executive Leadership Seminar, my first reaction was, you don’t have to be trained to give feedback. You just do it. But I learned a couple things that day.

  1. Create an environment and culture that embraces and welcomes giving and .
  2. Customize your approach for each employee. Have you asked each person you directly manage how they would prefer to receive both positive and constructive feedback?
  3. Separate positive feedback and developmental feedback sessions. A lot of times, to make a seemingly difficult conversation easier for the person initiating it, we use a “sandwich” technique. Basically, you layer some great wording with some harsher words and create a weird feedback burger. Try instead to separate the two. Our human instinct kicks in, we ignore all the positives and dive straight into the one negative that was said.
  4. When you need to give great constructive feedback try this:
  • In simple, specific terms, outline the issue/behavior. Do not be general or vague.
  • Explain the impact this issue has on the company, project, organization, etc.
  • Provide a solution to remedy the issue.
  • Express your absolute confidence and support in the person’s ability.
  • Always end with a thank you using their name or preferred name.

This technique can also be used for positive feedback as well. For this, encourage more of the same behavior. Praise is a powerful motivator, and it costs you nothing but a few minutes of time in your day to praise the specific work of someone.

Gone should be the days of only giving and receiving performance-based feedback on an annual basis. Overall, our generation is looking for more consistent, quick, and timely feedback and in our industry, this is even more important. We are a fast-paced, performance and results driven industry, no matter if you’re cracking the mic every day to chase high ratings or you are media sellers trying to achieve your monthly goals, you have an on-going, real-time, report card.  “Today with Millennials as the future of our organizations, feedback is more central to the role of a manager than ever before. Millennials want feedback. They want it now and they want it consistently, or they’ll simply leave. Giving Millennials feedback is a very different game from what we knew in the past. The reality is that feedback has moved from an annual performance review to an everyday occurrence, or at least it should be.” Source

Does this take time? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Think about this, what is more financially and time-consuming feedback now or having to replace someone later?

Until next time, stay dope Gen Y!

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