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3 Simple Ways to Get More Feedback

By Lindsey Pollak

When I run training programs for companies on how to better manage their Generation Y talent, there is a certain complaint I hear over and over again:

This generation wants too much feedback!

According to many managers, Gen Y employees want feedback “on-demand”—they want to know how they’re doing after virtually every meeting, presentation, report, project or any other demonstration of their skills.

Most Gen Ys don’t dispute this fact at all. Almost every young employee I’ve questioned about this stereotype has agreed that it’s true: They can’t get enough feedback at work.  This may be because Millennials grew up receiving endless feedback from their performance on video games. Or it may be because they received constant attention and encouragement from their helicopter parents. Or, as digital natives, Gen Ys are used to comparing themselves to the rest of the world with a single click.

Whatever the reasons (and they may be different for each individual), the reality is that most Millennials want more feedback than they’re currently receiving. Many Baby Boomer and Gen X managers are doing their best to provide more feedback—after all, providing feedback is a great way to make one’s employees more productive and successful—but a gap still exists. Remember that for many managers of a previous generation, an annual review was once considered adequate feedback.

In my opinion, the burden to meet Millennials’ feedback needs should not rest entirely with managers. If you are a young professional (or any age professional!) who feels you are not getting enough input from your manager, here are three simple ways to ensure you receive the feedback you want and need:

1. Set a feedback schedule. One of the reasons managers don’t give regular feedback is because they simply don’t have time.  So, make it easier for your manager to assess you by asking to set a regular time to discuss your performance. (This strategy works best if your manager has specifically said that you are asking for too much feedback.) Ask your manager for a daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly meeting (depending on what’s reasonable) to chat about your work and provide you with feedback and guidance.

Once he or she agrees to regular meetings, you’ll need to respect this arrangement and not solicit feedback at other points. And it’s your job to plan the agenda for your meetings: Bring a list of recent projects or activities, your own assessment of how you performed and specific questions for your manager to answer. In general, the easier you make it for your manager to provide feedback, the more you’ll receive.

2.Seek out multiple sources of feedback. If regular meetings don’t totally satisfy you, or your manager doesn’t want to meet regularly, this is a smart strategy. Simply look elsewhere. When you have multiple sources of feedback to tap, you can save your most important performance questions for your manager.

Even if you have a manager who loves to assess you, it’s still a wise idea to solicit other people for feedback. While you can’t share confidential work products with anyone else, there are many other aspects of your job that others can assess.

For instance, seek a mentor in another department who can provide feedback on your email communication skills or your overall professionalism, ask a peer to observe you in a meeting and comment on how you handled yourself or attend a few Toastmasters meetings to receive feedback on your presentation skills.

3.Improve your self-analysis skills. The final person you can ask for feedback is yourself. Self-analysis is an important career skill to learn early on in your working life. Continually educate yourself on career-related “soft skills,” such as communication, negotiation, professional etiquette (the many articles here in the Experis Career Center can help) and on the “hard skills” related to the actual work of your job. Then, in any situation where you desire feedback, ask yourself what you did well and what you might improve upon. In most cases, your gut feeling will be correct.

What other suggestions do you have for receiving sufficient feedback? Please share!