The NoviEdge Blog



Aug 23, 2023

Can Someone Tell Me How I Am Doing at My Job, Please? 

Recent research has confirmed what we already knew: employees (especially the younger generations) want feedback and they want it often!  

I hear it from clients every day … “these younger folks want endless, constant, continuous feedback.”  Even the most well-intentioned leader can feel overwhelmed, especially since many are still dealing with the effects of pandemic – talent shortages, supply chain issues, etc.   I remember a few years ago when we hired a new intern.  My company was very small, just about 20 staff members total.  As the President, I was not as involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. That first week of the intern’s onboarding, I was not in the office a lot.  On her third day, she emailed and asked if she could have a few minutes with me.  Priding myself on our “open door” policy, I quickly said yes and created space on my calendar. But like most when receiving an email like that, I couldn’t help but wonder “oh gosh, what is wrong?” 

That afternoon, I learned that this sweet intern just wanted to ask me for feedback on how she was doing and what she could do better.  I remember thinking, “Good grief, I don’t even know your name yet, and haven’t seen you for more than 10 minutes this week. How on earth can I give you feedback?”  After some discussion, I reassured her that I would have her direct supervisor get time on the calendar with her the following week and thanked her for taking time to talk to me. I then I asked if I could ask her a question. “May I ask... why are seeking feedback after only 3 days?” She replied, “My professor told me to, and my parents said I should also.”  Wow. How many times have we heard this or similar answers?   

So, the point is, you’re not wrong: Millennials and Gen Z do want a lot of feedback.  But when we stop to think to about it, it makes sense. This generation grew up with more adult support than previous generations.  Familiar with the term “helicopter parents?” This generation not only had helicopter parents, but coaches, advisors, tutors, and other supportive adults to provide them with guidance almost 24/7.  And some of these newest participants in the work force did not even get to finish their high school or college years in a classroom.  Many of their parents started working remotely during the pandemic, meaning they were with one or both of their parents (or some other adults) all the time.  It’s not such a big surprise then, that they would expect this to continue in the workplace... is it? 

Additionally, this generation grew up in a digital world.  They’re used to pressing a button for instant gratification.  They think nothing of ordering Starbucks or McDonald’s from Door Dash or Grubhub, even if the restaurant is just around the corner.  If they want to see the latest movie from their own couch? No problem, just order it and watch it.  I remember growing up in a small town and having to wait for weeks (or what sometimes felt like months) for the latest movie to come to our little theater.  This generation of workers interact in virtual worlds where everything is available to them at their fingertips.  Subconsciously, this instant gratification can translate into workplace expectations. So, to be fair, when you stop and reflect on this generation’s views toward work and the workplace, it isn’t as foreign as we may first think.  

I completely understand how you’re feeling- “How on earth can I find time to add yet more to-dos to my already over-scheduled days?”  I assure you; it truly doesn’t take much time and the benefits far exceed the cost. Not only will it help you and your organization be more successful, but honestly, it’s important for all your team members, not just the younger generations. 

According to Gallup, managers who offer frequent and ongoing feedback influence their employees to be 3.2 times more likely to strongly agree that they are motivated to do outstanding work, and 2.7 times more likely to be engaged at work. In addition, time is proving that providing ongoing feedback and coaching also helps employees grow and develop (which is what they really want!), and provides real-time insight into performance, motivation, and strengths. 

Letting people know how they are doing frequently helps improve communication, increases understanding of job duties and goals, retains top talent, strengthens relationships at work, and improves your ROI, or as we like to say at NoviEdge, your ROR (Return on Relationships.)  All of this helps organizations achieve ambitious goals for improved company performance. 

Like many business owners and leaders, you are probably also hearing a lot about “psychological safety” in the workplace.  A sense of psychological safety provides employees with security that they will not be disciplined, belittled, or humiliated, for speaking up with ideas, concerns, or mistakes – and therefore helps organizations foster a more collaborative, community-oriented culture.  When employees feel “safe,” the ongoing feedback and coaching process will become extremely valuable to not only your employees, but the entire organization.  

With that said, providing ongoing feedback and coaching requires intentionality on your part as a leader/manager.  This type of feedback is interactive, and not just the impromptu “Great Work!” you throw out as you leave a meeting.  While that type of everyday praise is valuable (and all generations love this recognition), continuous feedback requires a bit of planning and strategy that ties together the everyday praise, goal setting, constructive feedback, and coaching between leaders and employees.   

These one-on-one meetings ensure that performance conversations take place regularly.  It’s a great time to evaluate what went well last week, what was difficult and how you can best support your employee moving forward. It also creates space to communicate and align on goals, as well as discuss a personalized learning and development plan that will help the employee grow and develop. By discussing an employee’s progress, as well as their opportunities for development, the ability to meet mutually agreed upon short-term objectives and long-term goals becomes “truly shared.”  This makes it easier to design learning plans and prioritize objectives to raise productivity and enhance the person’s knowledge and abilities.  Putting in this effort shows your employees that you truly do care about them, not only as an employee, but as a person.  And it allows leaders to really start to get to know their people.  We can’t say it enough- when people feel connected, they thrive … which is good for them, and good for you and your organization.  

These conversations are an investment of time that you cannot afford to lose and will become the cornerstone of the pillars of success for your organization, today, tomorrow, and into the future.  So please, tell your employees how they are doing, and tell them often! 

Click below to learn more about our "Reimagine: Culture" workshop with Jay McChord: Reimagine: Culture


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