Meet Kyle Lagunas – He is the HR Analyst at Software Advice, and blogs about trends and technology in the exciting world of human resources. I’m introducing you to him because he wrote this post and sent it to me to add to TomorrowToday’s Blog. It’s a great read, written by Gen Y about Gen Y.
The workforce is changing. We don’t carpool to cut commuting costs–we telecommute. We don’t go MIA when we’re on the road–we have a whole arsenal of mobile apps to keep us plugged in. Many of the archaic processes organizations have relied on to manage talent performance for the last two generations simply aren’t cutting it anymore. For example, Dr. Samuel Culbert argues in his article, Get Rid of the Performance Review, that performance reviews are “little more than a dysfunctional pretense.” Whether you love them or hate them, though, they aren’t going anywhere for most of us.
In his article, Culbert fails to distinguish that some reviews are better executed than others.
At the most basic level of his argument, though, is a serious call to action: performance reviews need a makeover. And just as a company would adjust its business model to meet the demands of a changing market, so too must an organization rise to meet the needs of the new kids on the block: Generation Y.
Many HR professionals and business leaders are asking the same question. “Can Gen Y handle performance reviews without a sugar coating and cream filling?” Ira S. Wolfe argues that managers must “tread lightly when making even the most benign critique.” In his article Business 2 Business Magazine, he dubs my fellow Millenials “trophy kids.” The implication is that, whether we hit foul balls or home runs over the course of a year, we expect to be applauded and rewarded for our efforts.
Though, I don’t entirely agree with Wolfe’s assertions regarding Generation Y in the workplace, his article certainly holds some truth worth exploring. Specifically, I think it would be worthwhile for organizations interested in helping their Gen Y employees elevate their game to understand performance reviews from our perspective.
Make the Most of the Review
Generation Y is patently idealistic, and we love to know we’re contributing to something bigger than ourselves. Performance reviews are our best chance to get quality face time with leadership and to gain insight into their expectations of us. There are too many organizations out there treating performance reviews as little more than a matter of course. We, like, totally don’t get it… Share your vision with us–sell us on it! We don’t expect every review to change our lives, but we definitely want to connect with you and with our organization.
Lose the Sugar Coating
The recession affected us, too. According to a Pew Research Center study released last year, about 37% of Gen Y is unemployed or out of the workforce (the highest percentage in three decades). We understand the reality behind the glitter and gilt we were promised as kids. As such, we appreciate honesty in the workplace, even if it means getting some tough love. If we didn’t perform up to par, talk us through it. Help us figure out where things went wrong, and let’scome up with a game plan for improvement with clear, measurable goals. We’re in this together, righ? Create some accountability, foster some collaborative effort, and we’ll rock your socks off.
Connect with Us
Regular feedback is invaluable to us. And you may have noticed, but we communicate through new channels (we’re not big fans of printed memos in triplicate). Do you have an office instant messaging client? If not, get one. Chat is an excellent way to connect with your employees for informal check-ins or casual feedback. Also, social media tools like Yammer and Chatter offer a great way to collaborate and keep tabs on who’s doing what. They also give your team a chance to connect with each other for quick questions and knowledge sharing. Open communication establishes a solid connection to the organization, which is something Gen Y deeply values. Get some conversation flowing, breathe life into your open door policy, and watch it grow.
Positive Reinforcement isn’t a Bad Thing
Although we’re not running around on a football field, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be recognized for stellar performance. Though I may not be as satisfied with a plastic “gold” medal as I was in middle school, everyone likes to be rewarded for “crushing it” (as my boss is wont to say). Who decided to demonize trophies in the workplace, anyway? It’s not like recognition programs are going to suck your operations budget dry. A lot of times, just the act of acknowledging effort or accomplishment makes a world of difference. Check out this neat iPhone app, iAppreciate. It’s cool, it’s easy, and it’s free, and those little “Atta boy!” or “You go girl” emails go a long way in keeping us motivated.
The line between work and personal life has blurred in recent years, and this is especially true for Gen Y. When we talk about reviewing performance and recognizing a job well done, we’re not talking about ranking systems and shiny pieces of plastic. We’re talking about cultivating ongoing relationships between employers and employees. From a Generation Y perspective, that’s definitely something worth investing in.