Handling Employee Feedback in a Multigenerational Workplace

While the prospect of having employees from multiple generations in the same workplace can seem daunting, managing a multigenerational workforce is actually easier than it sounds. You see, the generations are as alike as they are different. For example, employees across the generational spectrum want feedback to help them improve their performance.

Get the most out of your multigenerational workforce with this quick primer on employee feedback for each age bracket:

Managing Millennials

When it comes to your millennial or Generation Y employees, you want to:

give frequent, balanced feedback;

set clear guidelines for solving performance issues;

praise and correct employee behavior as necessary;

offer crystal clear feedback — don't be vague with millennials;

and involve millennial employees in solutions.

Millennial Feedback Checklist

Millennials can be sensitive, and they need a great deal of feedback. However, they are also great sources of positivity and innovation. For millennial employees, properly delivered feedback can both correct poor performance and make good performance a more frequent occurrence.

When giving feedback to millennial employees, ask yourself the following questions:

Have I ...

Delivered balanced feedback that both emphasizes good behaviors and lays out the consequences of poor performance?

Described any performance issues in specific, clear, concrete detail?

Given the employee an active, involved role in the solution to their performance issues?

Established expectations for follow-up? Millennials like to know what the next steps are, so be sure to create a plan!

Managing Generation X

When it comes to managing Generation X employees, you want to:

make sure you include details in your feedback;

foster an optimistic atmosphere during performance conversations;

give employees the authority to fix any issues that arise;

respect protocol in resolving issues;

and follow up with potential teaching or mentoring opportunities.

Generation X Feedback Checklist

Gen. X is self-reliant and a little cynical. They desire leadership roles and work hard to attain work/life balance. Performance conversations with Gen. X employees are great opportunities to discuss future responsibilities and potential new roles. Make sure the conversation centers on performance talk and not flowery language or effusive praise.

When giving feedback to Gen. X employees, ask yourself the following questions:

Have I ...

Been specific about what the employee did correctly and incorrectly?

Guarded against cynicism by fostering a positive environment during the conversation? Gen. X can be cynical, which can derail otherwise constructive conversations.

Granted the employee new authority if warranted? Gen. X employees are at the point in their careers where they both want and, likely, have earned authority. Giving them this authority will encourage their loyalty to your organization.

Implemented a formal follow-up process? Gen. X-ers like formal processes a lot more than they let on, so set dates and create plans.

Given the employee a path to increased leadership? Gen. X-ers have more to learn and much to teach. Give them opportunities to do both.

Managing Baby Boomers

When it comes to managing baby boomer employees, you want to:

ensure your expectations are in line with their skills;

show appreciation for their contributions;

offer public recognition;

nip any disrespect in the bud;

and give rewards and recognition as appropriate.

Baby Boomer Feedback Checklist

Baby boomers like to feel valued for their workplace contributions and tenure. Boomers believe all employees should pay their dues — because, in many cases, they had to. Support boomers by showing appreciation for their time spent at your company. If you're facing significant challenges in offering boomers feedback, try adding a "cusper" to the mix. Cuspers are employees on the generational cusp, straddling the gap between two generations. They can help ease tension and build bridges when intergenerational conversations break down.

When giving feedback to boomer employees, ask yourself the following questions:

Have I ...

Discussed expectations for both them and employees of other generations? Boomers have no issue with being critiqued, but they do want to ensure other generations are held to the same standards.

Shown appreciation for their time with the company? Tenure matters to this generation, so don't gloss over their time with the company. A gold watch or plaque is a small price to pay for a lifetime of service.

Truly listened to their feedback? Boomers need to feel they are being heard — and given their years of experience, they have much to offer.

Shown respect for the employee? This is especially pertinent for supervisors who are younger than their boomer employees. Boomers won't tolerate disrespect from anyone, but especially not a younger manager.

Paired my employee with a cusper? If generational differences begin to strain a boomer's relationship with their supervisor, it's time to bring in someone who understands both generations to help get communication back on track.

A version of this article originally appeared on the iRevü blog.

Michael Heller is the CEO and founder of iRevü.