Generational Feedback

Gina Deveney
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Workers at accounting firms, no matter their age or how long they've worked for the firm, require performance feedback to improve. A supervisor provides relevant guidance on how to improve client interaction, work with colleagues and quality of work. One relevant problem that accounting firms face is how different generations view this kind of evaluation.

The generation gap with respect to performance feedback starts with how bosses deliver this information. Formal reviews occur regularly — from every 90 days to yearly — and that evaluation needs appraisal forms, signed letters and a formal meeting with managers. However, informal feedback works just as well in certain situations. Older workers may tell next-generation workers to look around the office to perform a self-evaluation.

An accountant can ask three questions to review a worker's progress. Who always works when supervisors schedule jobs? Who receives the interesting and challenging projects? How many and what types of performance feedback does a worker receive? All of these questions encourage an employee to look around the office and imitate someone else's behavior. A colleague should notice how the highest-quality employee acts and use that person as a model.

The generation gap shows with respect to performance feedback. Baby boomers and members of Generation X realize that feedback has a time and place. However, millennials often crave evaluations constantly as part of their overall professional goals. Every generation wants honest, professional and authentic feedback so each person can improve.

Millenials may prefer more performance feedback. Instead of yearly evaluations, perhaps a quarterly review is more appropriate. Younger workers want evaluations to include kind words as opposed to abrasive comments. Millennials love details, and they want to know what it takes to make it to the next level in the corporate ladder.

Part of the reason these generations differ in accounting firms may start with technology. Younger people enjoy using smartphone apps and remain tech-savvy. Connected devices provide instant feedback, and perhaps younger people expect the same behavior from their bosses. Millennials value relationship just as much as profits. That means they want mentors, bosses who care about their lives and a better work-life balance.

To those ends, accounting firms must learn to deal with millennials as the next generation of accountants takes over the industry. Companies that do not cater to younger workers fall behind those that do. With all of the technology available to businesses today, many CPAs strike out on their own as one-person firms instead of staying with companies whose bosses and partners they perceive to be out of date and out of touch.

Performance feedback remains an important aspect of how the generations communicate with each other at the office. These informal and formal evaluations let accountants know what to expect of each other as they deal with clients and co-workers.


Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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