On a recent flight, I found myself sitting next to an HR specialist. She was a Gen Xer like me. When she found out that I studied generations, she got very heated about her frustrations with Millennials and their need for regular feedback on the job. Was this the time to tell her Gen Z prefers the same thing albeit keeping these feedback sessions to a quick five minutes?
I tried to remind her how much we Xers hated to get feedback only once a year. It killed us to find out that our leaders weren’t happy with something we had done five months earlier; if we’d known sooner, we could have been working on it.
She continued on. The Millennials in her company wanted quarterly feedback. Even worse, they wanted qualitative feedback, not just a quantitative score. She said a day doesn’t go by when she doesn’t get complaints from managers about the open-ended questions they have added to the employee review forms. I tried to explain that qualitative feedback can help leaders explain themselves in ways that a rating just can’t. Her rebuttal was that Boomer parents created these “monsters” by talking to their children about everything and now managers are expected to do the same.
When we landed, she whipped out her phone, started to giggle and then showed me a picture of her oldest daughter, a Gen Zer who is away at college. She was dressed as a mermaid for Halloween. I complimented the picture. As she double tapped the picture herself, she said, “Clearly a lot of people like the costume because she already has 134 likes and 16 comments, and she just posted it an hour ago.”
I grabbed my overhead bag and said, “Wow! That’s a lot of people commenting! I can only imagine what her expectations will be like when it comes to feedback on the job.”
To learn more about Generation Z in our new book, Gen Z @ Work, click here.