Feedback Lessons from Gen Y

Posted 10.17.2008

Wanted feedback Years ago I heard a management speaker say that the annual performance review process is the equivalent of scolding your dog once a year for every time he left a mess on the carpet over the past 12 months.  There are a couple of threads in that idea.  One is that annual performance reviews are painful and the other is that they don’t do much good.

Here’s another opportunity to take a lesson from the twenty somethings in Gen Y (see my post, Another Example of How My Son is Usually Right, for another).  In her Theory & Practice column this week in The Wall Street Journal, Brittany Hite reports that Gen Y workers are feedback hungry.  In an Ernst & Young study, 85 percent of their Gen Y employees want “frequent and candid performance feedback.” 

So, what are some best practices for giving frequent feedback?  Hite’s column offers these tips that IBM encourages its managers to practice:

•    Avoid surprises – give feedback in the moment, don’t wait for the annual review
•    Be clear – clarify expectations
•    Listen – use open ended questions to start a conversation (see my post, What’s Up With Your Questions?)
•    Keep it loose – informality is welcomed
•    Reflect – share what you’ve learned
•    Be prepared – have your thoughts organized for a constructive conversation

Is it just me or do these tips strike you as good ideas for feedback and managing performance with team members of any age?  What are your best ideas for delivering feedback?  What’s the worst method you’ve ever seen?