DECEMBER 13, 2022

How To Give Feedback To Younger Employees

In our work, I’m hearing more and more that Boomer and GenX leaders are getting frustrated when giving feedback to younger employees, and in some cases avoiding it altogether.

Leaders or even employees in their 40s and up are convinced that even the slightest critique is going to send a Millennial or GenZer into an emotional breakdown!

While it’s true that some younger generations show more emotions at work, older generations shouldn’t profile or generalize.

Managers and leaders can learn how to relate to the younger generation and talk to them in a way that meets everyone’s needs.

How to Give Feedback

I recommend starting any conversation at work the same way, no matter the person’s age…by building rapport.

Then, use this “feedback formula”

  • Set the stage by giving your intent for the conversation
  • Focus on the work, not the person
  • Give the reason (just the impact of their actions, not your judgments)
  • Make a clear request, and
  • End by offering support.

For example, you could say to a younger employee: “I appreciate the work you did on the first proposal draft. I want to talk to you about some remaining grammar errors. It’s vital that our work product be error-free, so our clients maintain high confidence in our work. Can you fix the issues and update the draft by tomorrow at 2 PM, so I have enough time to review it? If you want some help from someone who has more proposal writing experience, let me know and I can put you in touch with Kiara.”

When communicating across generations, what we sometimes believe to be clear is actually not heard the way we intended.

When the perception of what you said causes a negative emotional response, you know you could have said it differently.

How To Recieve Feedback

To Millenials and Gen Z, I challenge you to do your part to receive feedback constructively.

Ask questions.

If you’re hearing judgment, translate it into observations.

Please give more credence to the fact your manager has been doing this longer than you. There is value in their experience.

A much sought-after quality in an employee is someone who is able to be coached. Older employees really do want to pass on their experience and help you grow.

If you get negative feedback, find something within it that could be useful.

Most of all, don’t leave the conversation until you agree on the next steps. Talking through things until they are clear can solve a lot of problems.

Do you want to bring this kind of training to your organization? Contact us.