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Do Millennials Want Feedback?

We’ve seen it a thousand times, in a thousand articles: Millennials crave feedback. But most of the “research” that supports this theory is wrong; millennials, just like other generations, don’t crave feedback. They crave attention.

People don't want feedback, they want attention. Click To Tweet

We’ve read that the rise of social media has created the feedback loop that is now ubiquitous in business, and that to see what millennial workers want we need only look to Facebook. But that’s inherently wrong – no one uses Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat, because of the honest feedback they give you. They are means for positive attention.

If you want to engage your workforce – millennial or otherwise – give your employees the attention they deserve.

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  1. Stephanie Moore January 16, 2018 at 8:01 AM - Reply

    I play your video on conducting frequent 1:1’s as part of Cisco’s “Put Your Strengths To Work” and in almost every session people have a reaction to your statement that people don’t want feedback. Granted I have all age of participants but more times than not they say they want feedback, they want to know what they specially are doing well and if they miss the mark they want to know that too since they may not know. Yes, they then want coaching to get better and yes they certainly want attention but I would love to see more videos like this one to help convince this position.

  2. Carolee January 16, 2018 at 10:32 AM - Reply

    From the video, sounds like it’s more about VALIDATION than feedback. I think feedback implies judgment of the person/work, where validation is more about reassurance of the value of the person/work, even if the recommendation is ultimately to change something. Social media “likes” and comments seem like they’re more about validation, attention, active listening, when they’re welcome. Not “feedback” as the workplace understands it. The Avatar line “I see you” comes up sometimes in my Twitter feed, when people are making statements about situations when they feel judged or disregarded in some way. I think it’s an interesting concept!

    • Meredith Bohling January 19, 2018 at 12:48 PM - Reply

      Absolutely! It’s like we’ve lumped all responses into “feedback” when really it’s much more complex than that. Validation, positive attention, strengths coaching – all GREAT things. Telling someone the truth about his or herself to make yourself feel better? Not so much.

  3. Landy January 16, 2018 at 7:40 PM - Reply

    Completely agreed. Millenials, just like other generations, are human being too.

    • Meredith Bohling January 17, 2018 at 11:02 AM - Reply

      That’s very kind of you!

  4. Ryan Naylor January 17, 2018 at 4:22 PM - Reply

    I never cared for these generational identities…boomers, gen Y, Gen X, millennials, etc. I think they’re all smoke and mirror…just another false identity distraction. It’s not a generation thing, it’s a communication relationship – nothing more, nothing less. You either know how to communicate with those around you, or you don’t. And if you don’t know how to communicate with your own self, that’s where the problem is.

  5. Wayne F. Miller, PMP January 19, 2018 at 10:58 AM - Reply

    the millennials I work with say they want feedback, but what they want is to know immediately if they are doing it right! It’s feedback, but only positive. I have no problem with that and think it follows the strengths principals to a tee! Recognize what you want repeated, and do it often. Everyone feels stronger and you achieve the results you’re after. And I agree to a point with Ryan, this works with everyone.

    • Meredith Bohling January 19, 2018 at 12:46 PM - Reply

      Wayne, that’s a great distinction! I definitely want to know if I’m doing something correctly (or incorrectly) at the beginning of the process – especially when it’s a new or unusual project, to make sure I’m not wasting anyone’s time. So much of it goes back to Marcus’s “Coaching vs. Feedback” episode: the way many managers are giving feedback is counterproductive, but when it’s given through the lens of coaching, it suddenly becomes helpful & meaningful.

  6. Ale January 22, 2018 at 2:30 PM - Reply

    It’s very confusing comparing social media with feedback provided at work. The first one prompts a reaction from the reader that has nothing to do with the intention we set when providing feedback at work. It’s not about the truth, it’s about coaching and support as the foundation to build a healthy relationship between leaders and employees.

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