Millennials in the workplace: You Rock. The importance of Instant Feedback 

The needs of millennials in the workplace bring a lot of changes to organisations. For example, their need for instant gratification, as described in this article from Daniel Pink (2010).

According to Daniel, this need for instant gratification is because this generation grew up with modern technologies. Which have always provided them with instant feedback (or maybe, gratification).

Millennials in the workplace expect to be reviewed immediately. This clashes with traditional organizational structures. Where annual performance reviews are usually the only (structured) way to provide individuals with feedback.

Daniel also claims the annual performance review doesn’t really work when it comes to performance management. First, it is annual, and that means you miss the chance of improvement during the year. Second, the performance review in many traditional organizations is more of a ritual, a goal in itself.

Why instant feedback is important for Millennials in the workplace

Instant feedback is not something you usually will find in abundance in the workplace. Although providing employees with direct and continuous feedback is very important, if not critical for organizations.

Putting instant feedback in place is not only beneficial for the millennials in the workplace. A generation that will make up the majority of the workforce in just a few years. It will also help you to achieve your overall business goals.

In a learning organization, where people are expected to grow and work on the overall organization goals, continuous evaluation is critical. This is particularly true in dynamic and complex environments. Where people work on innovations and where they continuously need to adjust technological and commercial challenges.

Especially for young professionals who have a steep learning curve. They need this feedback to make sure they stay on track. Teams and individual millennials in the workplace can flourish, improve their performance and add more value to the organizations by adding continuous feedback to the performance cycle.

You Rock. Creating a culture of instant feedback

To create a culture of continuous feedback, it is important to look at the way organizations usually work with feedback on performance.

A once-a-year performance review is the traditional way of approaching performance management. The manager shares his opinion about your performance over the last year.  Often, the HR department is seen as “responsible” and ends up chasing management to do the annual performance review. Also, HR usually provides tools, such as forms, systems or training.

Creating a culture where instant feedback is the norm, unfortunately is not most HR departments’ focus. A  shame because it would help to strengthen a learning organization or a continuous need for change and growth.

The need for more instant feedback, not only for millennials in the workplace but all generations, is getting more clear. In Daniels article, he describes an example where employees built their very own performance system to fill in the gap. Luckily, there are now professional tools on the market that allow your employees to give and receive instant feedback as part of the total performance cycle; such as Impraise.

Of course, just putting a system in place is not enough. There is a big role for both the leadership team and HR. It is their responsibility to create a culture where asking and giving feedback in a respectful and constructive way is normal and appreciated.

The end of the yearly performance review?

Does this mean organizations should not do a yearly performance review?

In my opinion, the yearly evaluation and setting goals for development is still a very important part of the performance cycle. To make it effective, you should set up a cycle that is a mix of…

  1. Instant feedback: How did that meeting go?;
  2. Quarterly check-ins: How are you doing? Are you on track with your goals?;
  3. Yearly performance review: Looking back on the year, general performance and development goals.

That way you can support and coach your employees on different levels to grow and succeed. After all, your employees’ performance determines your companies’ performance.