Performance Reviews

4 things millennials hate about performance reviews in the workplace

By on June 5, 2018

Experts predict that by 2020, millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce with Gen Z making up 24%. That would be more than half the working population!

According to some studies, millennials are perceived as someone who feels entitled, impatient and seek quick validation. Unlike the previous generations which appear patient, committed and more old fashioned. These previous generations are more likely to follow the leadership’s advise than challenge it. Millennials on the other hand want to get a clearer picture of the end goal before they commit to the task. The most basic difference is – where Baby Boomers or Generation X will stay back after hours to get the job done, whereas millennials will try and find the most efficient way to get the job done within time.

In this light, various studies say that organizations need to revamp their work culture. Primarily to meet the demands of the Millennial generation as well as the previous two.

When we speak about work culture, we cannot afford to miss out on emphasizing the importance of the company’s performance review process. Performance reviews play a vital role in engaging and motivating employees. Companies find it easier to retain top performers as well as improve the bottom line. However, the process of performance review that worked well with the Baby Boomers and Generation X is not sufficient anymore.

In the past, performance reviews were often plagued with subjectivity or biased managers. Employees had little to no authority to challenge these reviews. Today’s employees are of a whole new breed. They want to see the analysis and reasoning behind their reviews. It needs to be free of all subjectivity and psychological biases and be entirely ethical.

With the latter’s number increasing in the organization, it is wise to understand what they think of the current set of processes.

4 things millennials hate about performance reviews

1. Review performance not behavior:

Some studies say that, millennials value flexibility over traditional benefits, unlike previous generations. For example, everyone has different peak times of productivity through the day. While some may prefer working from the comfort of their homes without being disturbed.

As long as they are efficiently completing their work on time and their team’s productivity is not affected, this flexibility should be allowed. If the performance review holds this freedom against them, it could quickly lead to disengagement. Many Silicon Valley companies have actually introduced this benefit (among others) and led the way in revolutionizing work culture.

2. Career Progression missing:

Previous generations are known for sticking around till the time they retire. They valued job security among other things. Often, it would be years before employees moved on to any leadership roles in the organization. They were mostly content in their roles.

Millennials are said to put a lot of emphasis on their career progression as they want to rise rapidly through the organization. They expect training or guidance in areas that they lack or further develop their existing skills set. Thus, performance reviews should encompass options on how they can learn new skills or develop existing ones.

3. Lack of specific feedback:

Due to annual reviews, in the past employees received feedback only once a year. Often their managers would forget major accomplishments and even challenges that some team members faced. So this feedback was mostly generic and relied on the manager’s memory. It provided little value to the employee in terms of what was needed for them to grow or what were their strengths and weaknesses.

Performance reviews need to be very specific about what is expected from the employee and what are the shortcomings. Millennials need to understand how their current performance will affect their personal goals. Otherwise it won’t be effective or have the desired impact, much less motivate them to work harder.

4. The most obvious one: Annual performance reviews:

One of the most common complaint among millennials is infrequent performance reviews. They are impatient when it comes to reviewing their performance and efforts. Annual reviews are not sufficient. Regular and frequent reviews help employees keep their career on track. Thus, they can make adjustments to their performance according to their strengths and weaknesses.

Additionally, leverage continuous feedback to maintain steady communication between employees and their managers. If there are any deviations, they can be quickly informed about the situation. Plus, if someone performs well, managers can recognize their performance at the same time. After all, recognition is one of the biggest motivators in the organization.

Why performance reviews should not be tailored to one single generation:

While it does make sense to be prepared for millennials, the move could be a bit short sighted. It is not wise to change the entire process to suit just one generation. Even though they may form the majority of the office population in the next couple of years. Because irrespective of the number of studies being conducted, it is difficult to generalize the needs and wants of a generation that forms approximately 2 billion of our global population. While the study reflects the behavior of one sample of this generation, it cannot talk for everyone.

Instead of designing the performance review to suit millennials, companies need to design a systematic competency based process for everyone. A flexible process that can also be used in the long term with minor tweaks here and there. After all, a few years down the line, Generation Z will join the office and who knows what they may have in mind.

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