What Does Performance Management Mean to Millennials?

John Krautzel
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The traditional performance review, where the work of an employee is appraised on an annual basis, is becoming an outdated talent management practice that does more damage than good, as many experts have pointed out. Workers of all generations, especially the millennials, are looking for a different type of performance review that focuses on providing real-time feedback while being more of a dialogue rather than a one-sided evaluation.

Performance Management as an Ongoing Process

The millennial generation, or people between the ages of 18 and 34, will make up almost half the workforce by 2020. These employees are increasingly unsatisfied with traditional performance management processes. They don't want to find out how they're doing a year or six months after being hired. They desire ongoing conversations about their work where they discuss the positives and negatives of their performance, areas for improvement, and ways to grow and develop in their positions.

Finding out they may be struggling with a certain skill set a year later doesn't help them improve and only leaves them frustrated. Ongoing feedback is nothing new to millennials. They have been raised with consistent, instantaneous feedback from their teachers, parents and other influential people in their lives. This feedback loop is something they expect to see in college and beyond, when they enter the workforce.

But how many millennials are actually getting consistent feedback? According to a Gallup report released in 2016 entitled, "How Millennials Want to Work and Live," only 19 percent of millennials receive regular feedback, and 56 percent meet with their supervisors less than once a month.

The Language Used in Performance Management

The language used in a traditional performance review may also be outdated and often sends the wrong message. Typically, employees are told if they are exceeding expectations, meeting expectations or not meeting expectations. Exceeding or not meeting expectations are more easy to understand; their connotation is pretty standard. But what about meeting expectations?

To a millennial, this might mean average, or a C grade. While a C grade isn't horrible, it isn't exactly what a lot of high achievers strive for, and it may not reflect the efforts an employee feels he puts into his job. Millennials are looking for performance management that keeps them engaged with professional development such as workshops and seminars and gives them constructive insights into their efforts. What does meeting expectations really mean anyway?

To meet millennials where they're at, employers should try and adjust their performance management strategies to the preferences and needs of this young but rapidly growing generation of workers. It's not just the millennials either. Most employees want to know that their work is making a meaningful, positive impact on the company and on the larger community as a whole, and continuous, real-time feedback from supervisors is a big part of what keeps them going.

Photo courtesy of kibsri at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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