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Millennial Performance Reviews: Thoughts from a Millennial

About The HRIS World Millennials Series™ #thwGenY

We are going to summarize a video provided by Simon Sinek, who has said and shared a lot of things we have already discussed in our newsletters and blogs...

Born 1984 and after, Millennials are accused of being entitled, narcissistic, unfocused, lazy. They do, however, want to work with a purpose, they want to make an impact, they want free food and bean bags (not necessarily the last two, just seeing if you are paying attention!). Yet, give them everything they want, and they are still not happy (truthfully, has anyone really been happy about getting anything, never mind everything, when always easily gained?).

This unhappiness has roots in their upbringing, in their use of technology, their impatience, and our environment...

  • The failed parenting strategies in which they were raised provoked more long-term problems than resolved. Let's face it, the parenting styles used to raise this generation tried to circumvent several principles everyone knows is true, some of which are: You reap what you sew, you can't sharpen a knife on a sponge, facing the pain you are going through today will minimize an even greater pain later. Instead, the parenting styles that were chosen focused heavily on issues that mostly could have been resolved over time that would have provided lessons learned early on in life. Those early lessons would have provided opportunities to build character which would have prepared their children for life after school, for the real life. This costly mistake has resulted in a generation that has, as far as we know, the lowest self-esteem than any previous generation. This means there are a sufficient number of Millennials, who are now the largest portion of the workforce, are going to need direction and guidance in overcoming an inhibiting lifestyle from what has essentially not been their fault.
  • Next on the list of root causes of the Millennials unhappiness is the lack of balance in using technology. This imbalance has allowed Millennials to filter nearly everything around them. This filtering process has kept them from really conversing which would lead to developing meaningful relationships, has kept them from learning how to work in teams, and has kept them from learning how to develop trust. They do this filtering via technology as it feels good. A Harvard study, completed in 2012, has shown that dopamine is released anytime one talks about themselves through social media (if not familiar, dopamine is the same chemical released when we smoke, drink, or gamble and the release of dopamine forms an addiction when it is not tempered). As the use of social media can provide a high level of dopamine, it makes social media and cell phone usage highly addictive. Truthfully, it is comparable to being provided all the smokes, alcohol, and gambling they wanted at a very young age. Yet, we have restrictions on smoking, alcohol, and gambling and none on the smartphone and social media usage. As a result of what amounts to a full access to a quick fix during the childhood and adolescence, what has been permitted in their childhood and adolescence has created an entire addictive adulthood generation that is numbed by a chemical called dopamine. And they are addicted in their personal lives, their work lives, their social lives, every level of their lives. Like ANY addiction, this dependency has deprived them of learning how to form deep meaning relationships as well as how to cope with stress that comes into their lives. Like ANY addiction, they are not turning to a person but to a device. This has lead to a higher rate of depression in a young generation. These addiction traits, however, can be stopped when one sees the value of a life outside of their addiction -- only now there is a higher level of pain involved as a habit needs to be broken, and new disciplines formed to develop new habits. The good news is they will be all the better for it.
  • Millennials are an impatient lot. Any time they want to do something, it is almost always immediately available for their participation - watch a film, read a book, ask someone out on a date, even ordering something on Amazon. This results in the failure to learn the life skill of being patient. This has minimized the social coping mechanisms all previous generations had to learn. Everything is instant gratification... except for job (or career) satisfaction and strength of relationships. Millennials have not learned that social coping skills are slow, meandering, messy processes. They have also never been taught that the most treasured and valuable things in life are arduous, long, and difficult in gaining. All this amounts to never having learned how to build joy into their lives.
  • Lastly the traditional company environment of short-term gains and funneling employees into positions where they either sink or swim will, with Millennials, result in a labor shortage never seen before. As Millennials want to learn, want to perform, want to make an impact, the traditional environment is not only unnecessary but minimizes the honing and growth of these desires. And their willingness is half the corporate battle, as many who have the hard skills do not have the proper soft skills that are necessary to carry out the hard skills successfully and fully. Companies need to learn how to teach Millennials how they can build confidence, how they can learn the skills of co-operation, how they can learn to overcome the challenges of a digital world while also finding a sense of balance, how they can learn to overcome instant gratification. All this will provide everyone -- the older generation, the businesses, the Millennials, the joys, impacts, fulfillments, and trust that one gets from working on something for a long time. We can not correct the problem we have created with the Millennials by using the same thinking that created the problem in the first place -- we have to think differently, which means actions must be different as well.

How can we, as leaders for the Millennials, do all this? Well, we ourselves have to relearn, and in some cases learn anew, the principles, laws of life, and the means that builds character. This is not something that should ba balked at -- there is a blessing to be had by us as people, businesses, as well as the Millennials as all will become stronger as a result, and that blessing will be in direct proportion to the effort put forth. This is a principle of relationships that transcends cultures, generations, genders, even IQ levels.

If you are interested in seeing the entire conversation by Simon Sinek, just click here and you will be taken to our youtube channel.

Feel free to reach out to us if you wish to contribute some of your thoughts via a post by clicking the contact us button on the lower right of any page. Feedback, debates, discussion, collaboration and conversation are always encouraged in the comments section below... For more information about this series, use the blue contact us button on the lower right of your screen to contact us -- or if you are reading this by our newsletter, then hit the reply button to get back to us!


If you can’t measure something, how are you going to improve anything? Despite the rhetoric and mindsets in the HR industry, the Performance Review is not dead and hardly needs a tombstone. Those that have already opted out of PR’s will — and mark our words — eventually reinstate the Performance Review. Millennials have a unique set of needs, mostly due to their exposure and upbringing that devalued accomplishments, character, and individuality. Kyle Lagunas, a leader in the Millennial generation, offers his perspective.

The workforce has changed.

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 Millennials 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 Millennials “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 Millennial in the workplace, his article certainly holds some truth worth exploring.

Specifically, I think it would be worthwhile for organizations interested in helping their Millennials employees elevate their game to understand performance reviews from our perspective.

Millennials

Make the Most of the Review

Millennials are 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 Millennials are 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, right?

Create some accountability, foster some collaborative effort, and we’ll rock your socks off.

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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 Millennials deeply value.

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.

What’s Your Experience?

Everyone has thoughts, has something to contribute tho this topic, please share yours in teh comments section below!

If you some thoughts on this, feel free to contact us by clicking the blue ‘contact us‘ button on the lower right of your screen.


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Kyle Lagunas

Research manager, emerging trends and technologies -- talent acquisition and staffing at IDC

Kyle Lagunas is research manager for IDC's emerging trends and technologies in a newly created talent acquisition and staffing practice.

In this role, Kyle leads IDC's research on the most recent developments in recruiting and staffing software, services, and consulting.

This research puts talent acquisition into the broader context of an integrated talent strategy.

He’s an avid tech enthusiast and GenY advocate and his work has been featured in Forbes, The New York Times, Business Insider, Information Weekly, The Huffington Post, and many other sources.

You can reach Kyle via email, social media, or by leaving a comment below...

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Posted in Career Management, HR Management, Human Resources, The HRIS Career World, The HRIS World Millennials Series and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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