“Millennials in the workplace” continues to be a major topic of discussion in blogs, articles, conferences and even boardrooms. Questions like “How do we manage them?” or “How do we provide feedback?” are commonly debated.
Since I am NOT a millennial, I cannot speak from their experience. Sure, I can give you advice based on my success and failures in dealing with millennials, but I thought it would be best to hear directly from one the recently entered the workforce. I have to be honest, I was a bit shocked when I received the content of the blog below. That being said, I am publishing it without any edits! Take a look and let me know what you think……
Enjoy the Read,
FEEDBACK: YOU CAN’T LIVE WITH IT, BUT YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT.
As a certified high school teacher and Millennial, I have become all too familiar with formal and informal evaluations. I am accustomed to the idea that my effectiveness as a teacher could be rated on a scale from one to five, that less than an hour of observation could alter my career prospects, and that the comments I received could either boost or destroy my confidence. I understood that my evaluation might be swayed by the evaluator’s personal opinion of me, and I was acutely aware that my future evaluators might not have worked in their own classrooms. Yet, despite the subjectivity of the teacher feedback system, I quickly became comfortable receiving and reviewing my evaluations.
That’s the good news: it can be done.
The bad news, however, is that Millennials have built a reputation for being overly sensitive and defensive. If you’re a Millennial, you probably want to throw yourself through a window each time you hear the term “snowflake” or the phrase “kids these days.” Perhaps these stereotypes are simply that: stereotypes. After all, there is nothing in our genetic makeup that makes us more sensitive than our older counterparts. But how did we earn these names, and how do our reactions to criticism fuel these stereotypes?
I believe there are two main reasons Millennials flounder in the face of criticism, each of which can be addressed with the proper mindset:
I’ll admit it: Millennials are notorious for emphasizing emotion over cold, hard facts. Rather than using phrases such as “this is true” or “I know,” many of my Millennial counterparts rely on the statement “I feel.” While this shift entails some positive aspects, such as the ability to show emotion and connect with others on a deeper level, it often leaves Millennials in a pinch. What if the truth and their emotions do not align? If a Millennial employee receives negative feedback, it might not “feel” true to this individual. This does not mean, however, that the negative feedback is invalidated or should be ignored. I have seen many of my peers disregard evaluations due the fact that it does not “feel” correct.
Upon receiving negative feedback, it is human nature to deny and defend. Rather than acting on emotion and providing an immediate response, however, we must learn to pause, reflect, and digest. This begins with asking the right questions of the evaluator: “Can you provide an example when I handled this incorrectly?” or “How do you suggest I handle this moving forward?” Perhaps this also requires going home after work, decompressing on the drive, and then reviewing the feedback once calm. Lastly, this might include creating a goal list, bringing it to work the next day, and reviewing it with one’s superior. Each of us will respond a bit differently, but we must ensure that our emotions have been removed from the equation in order to push forward.
Lack of Mentorship
From personal experience, I have found that we are much more likely to ingest constructive criticism from somebody who has poured into our lives and cares about our wellbeing. I was fortunate that most of my mentors from my student teaching experience wanted to see me succeed. In turn, I took their advice to heart rather than lashing out. However, it is almost impossible to accept criticism from someone who does not stick around to see what we do with it or, worse yet, does not even like Millennials. Due to a lack of mentorship in our increasingly broken homes and competitive workplaces, many Millennials failed to accept criticism without the accompanying guidance or actionable steps to move forward.
The answer to this problem is directed at both Millennials and their older counterparts. First, Millennials must show that they are willing to learn from their mistakes and are interested in receiving feedback from more experienced colleagues. On the other hand, Generation X and Baby Boomers must set aside their preconceived notions about Millennials and invest in the next generation. Rather than lamenting about today’s youth, these generations must become the solution and see the potential that we embody. After all, how will we know unless someone teaches us?
Feedback systems can be a tool or a burden, depending on how the receiver utilizes it. We can choose to lash out, deny the accusations, and attack those who “hurt our feelings,” or we can pick ourselves up, push forward, and learn from negative reviews. While this is especially true for Millennials, all generations must learn to accept criticism with humility, poise, and introspection…
…Even if you don’t “feel” like it.
By: A Professional Millennial