When I was starting out in my career, I was comfortable with the idea that I would get promoted after “learning the ropes,” making mistakes, and moving upward gradually. Most often, I would get feedback about my performance only when I went into a job review session with my boss.
In those sessions, I would get the news that I was handling some aspects of my job well, others less so. Some of my supervisors – the better ones – would outline a series of action steps and objectives for me to tackle. That was all well and good. And then when it was time for me to have another review, I would get a little more feedback on how I was doing, and possibly some new goals to pursue.
It has been my experience that that kind of hit-or-miss approach to giving feedback doesn’t work well with Younger Generations, for some very specific reasons. Younger Generations don’t like the idea of learning through trial and error; they like the sense that they are making a difference and contributing confidently to the success of your organization. Perhaps more importantly, they like to understand how they can move up and make a long-term contribution. It is best if you begin to talk about advancement and career planning with Younger Generation employees as soon as they arrive on the job. One good approach is to have career-planning meetings with Younger Generations during their initial training period as new employees.
The most effective approach is to create an individual career plan for each of your Younger Generation employees. (Note that I am writing about employees who you can expect to remain with your organization for the long term, not temporary or seasonal employees who are in positions that will be short-lived. If you employ a number of younger students who are only going to work for you for a short time, for example, you will not need to create individual career plans for each of them.)
Here are some steps to follow:
- Ask Younger Generations about their personal ambitions and interests, and work with them to create a plan that lets them live out those dreams as they work for you.
- Explain the behaviors and activities that are most valued in your organization. You can say, for example, “If you can grow repeat sales in your department, we will reward and value your contribution.”
- Explain how advancement works in your company, and how it could work for your Younger Generation workers. If they are starting out as a salesperson in one territory, for example, they can work toward taking over a new territory after a year of hitting sales quotas and bringing in a certain number of new accounts.
- Talk about your company’s values and mission, and invite Younger Generations to tell you how they can be part of them.
- Explain management training and other development programs and lay out specifics about how Younger Generations can take part.
- Establish specific benchmarks and expectations for your Younger Generation employees to attain. Build in timelines and due dates to keep the process specific.
- Schedule future check-in meetings at regular intervals to assess how the career plan is working. Members of Younger Generations, like other employees, do not like to work in a vacuum. So every month or three months, meet with them to assess how well the employee is doing with his or her career plan. At those sessions, keep the tone encouraging. Ask whether you or the company can help or provide resources.
Today’s post is adapted from my book Ingaging Leadership. An expanded edition from Motivational Press will be released soon.