Feedback and Follow-up; A Millennial Employee Case Study
Maeghan Smulders a Canadian “super-intern” graduated from Mount Royal University and set out to intern with 10 companies with a project she started called ProjectOne12. She rounded up 47 job offers. One recent article from the Globe and Mail quotes her saying, “I really wanted to find an environment I could really grow in.” The author of the article quipped, “Don’t we all.” I would agree with both statements. Success in their work is one of the most important life priorities for Millennials.
Yesterday my friend, a recent grad, had a workplace review one month after he started his new job. He told his two supervisors about how he felt over qualified for most of the tasks they had assigned him.
When they discussed some of his recent work, my friend brought up one of the projects he was particularly proud of. The same project he had sent to both supervisors a couple weeks before, to which he heard no response. After he brought it up at the meeting his supervisor asked, “tell me again why this [project] is relevant?”
During the meeting he got assigned “a new, super boring data entry job.” After the meeting with his employers he told me that he was planning to apply for other jobs
There are three problems here that could be solved if his employer thought like a Millennial.
The first two problems have to do with feedback.
The third problem has to do with follow-up
In his 2009 book, Not Everyone Gets a Trophy, Bruce Tulgan uses the concept of beating your high score in a video game as the kind of competition Gen Yers are looking for “they want to compete against themselves in a safe environment where they can try over and over again to improve on their own performance benchmarks.”
Tulgan explains, “When Gen Yers know you are keeping track of their day-to-day performance, their measuring instinct is sparked and their competitive spirit ignited. Keeping close track of their work tells them that they are important and their work is important.”
In my friend’s case they gave him one project he found interesting. The same project he felt proud of after completion. The same project they forgot about and deemed useless during his review meeting.
The first problem: my friend’s supervisors did not offer him any feedback on his project. As Millennials we want the chance to improve our work. For us, feedback helps us “beat the high score,” and gold stars show us that the work we’ve done counts for something.
Millennials want Gold Stars.
Millennials want to beat their high score.
Millennials want feedback.
“I said everything I was planning on saying… that’s why it was awkward.”
The second problem has to do with getting feedback from Millennial employees to the company or supervisors.
In this case my Millennial friend was asked to share feedback about his job in a meeting with his two direct superiors and not a human resources professional. It is important that Millennial employees have some way of communicating their concerns in a way they feel comfortable sharing both positive and negative feedback. In this case the employers might have had the chance to have a good discussion about how to improve the workplace for this employee and other Millennial employees.
Finally, the third problem is follow up. If you ask for feedback about the work experience and you get some suggestions you have to act on it –fast. Millennials have no tolerance for delays and it is easy to offend when they share something and no one takes action.
In this case the new grad employee explained that he felt undervalued and was still tasked with a similar data entry job. This generation needs to understand where they fit in the larger picture, if they are still tasked with a tedious or less meaningful job the employer could recognize the younger employee’s comments while explaining the role in relation to the mission of the company.