Millennial managers in the workplace will have your back… your feedback!
How do the Millennial managers drive the insurance industry to be feedback driven?
I was recently pulled over by a police officer because I was speeding. (Hopefully, my insurance agent does not subscribe to this publication.)
It’s embarrassing enough getting a speeding ticket but imagine my embarrassment when I rolled down the window. I looked at the officer and blurted out: “You’re not old enough to have a driver’s license, much less write me a ticket!”
As she wrote the ticket, it dawned on me that I was guilty of something that many of my baby boomer parent’s friends are guilty of. They have this frozen picture of me in their mind as a kid. They struggle with the idea that I am an adult, live on my own and have a job. (I am capable of getting speeding tickets.)
Many of us have similar thoughts about Millennials.
The oldest millennial was born in 1981. That makes them about 38 years old. When I was 38, I already had a divorce under my belt and was remarried!
So, the idea that they are just out of school and new to the workplace is really outdated.
Millennials are poised to take over the world. Okay, maybe not the world but they definitely are the next wave of workers, thinkers, and managers who will reshape the insurance industry.
According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce. Thirty-five percent of the workforce is made up of Millennials.
More importantly, Millennials are not content to sit on the sidelines and wait for an opportunity to text them an invite. Savvy Millennials recognize that as Baby Boomers leave the workplace to pursue their retirement dreams, there are not enough Gen Xers to assume the vacant leadership and management roles. Currently, 28% of Millennials are in management positions. Compare that to 2013, when Millennials held only 12%. That is a 133% increase in less than six years!
Do not be fooled into thinking that if the Millennial sitting next to you at the community table does not have the word manager in her title means she thinks her influence over business and how it operates stops there. Millennials perceive themselves as leaders, even if their titles don’t reflect a leadership position. According to The Hartford’s Millennial Leadership Survey, 80% of Millennials view themselves as leaders today and more than 75% aspire to be leaders beyond today and well into the future.
Millennials Want to Hear from Their Managers
Just like Millennials have forced the insurance industry (and nearly every other commercial enterprise) to rethink recruiting, training and compensation, millennials will push the rest of us to reexamine our perception of what makes a successful manager and leader.
Feedback is Your BFF
I mentioned earlier that I am a Gen Xer. We are notorious for our Lone-Wolf attitude towards work. Tell us what to do, give us the tools and training to do it and then leave us alone. No news is good news. When I began my career, I dreaded hearing from my manager. My stomach would sink every time I heard his voice on my voicemail. Why? Because he would only contact me if something was wrong.
This is not the case with Millennials. Millennials want to hear from their managers, and they want to hear from them often!
Millennials Will Manage People the Way They Like to be Managed
Sixty percent of Millennials report they like connecting with their managers at least once a day. If they do not hear from their managers daily, they want feedback weekly. Forty percent of Millennials want feedback every week, much more than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers want to hear from their supervisors.
According to a CLUTCH HR Employment Survey, more than 70% of millennials are satisfied at their place of employment when they receive detailed feedback from their supervisors.
What does this high value placed on feedback mean as Millennials assume more management and leadership roles?
Like the generations before them, many Millennials will manage people the way they like to be managed. This means giving people feedback frequently. The traditional annual review or giving feedback when it is convenient is going to fall by the wayside with Millennial managers.
Here are some of the ways Millennial managers are creating organizations that are feedback driven:
1. Stay Interviews
Kortney Evans, a Millennial manager at a mid-sized insurance firm, implemented Stay Interviews with her team. The purpose of a Stay Interview is to understand why people on your team stay and what may cause them to leave.
“We typically wait until the exit interview before asking someone why they are leaving. At that point, it is too late. We may be able to fix the problem for future employees, but we have lost the one employee who could have probably best helped us understand the problem.” Says Kortney.
According to Beverly Kaye, author of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, examples of Stay Interview questions are: What is your dream job? What is bothering you most about your job? And, what about your job makes you want to jump out of your bed?
A Stay Interview lasts about thirty minutes. It can be performed at regular intervals or whenever a manager thinks it is appropriate. The Stay Interview gives Millennial managers insights into their teams’ individual motivations and allows them to personalize their feedback with their employees.
2. Scheduled One-on-Ones
Shea began his career in procurement but switched jobs to work for an independent insurance agency. He felt his previous employer did not have a career path in place for him. He was recently promoted to a management position at his agency.
“One of my biggest disappointments with my previous employer was lack of guidance or help with the next stage of my career. I wasn’t sure how to move my career forward and it frustrated me there was nobody at the company talking to me about what next steps I needed to take.” Says Shea.
To ensure the same mistake did not happen when he became a manager, Shea implemented scheduled monthly conversations with each member of his team.
The conversations typically take about 15 to 30 minutes. During the conversation, he focuses on what the employee has learned so far and what does he want to focus on moving forward.
Questions to Ask during the One-on-Ones
Some of the questions Shea asks his employees during the conversation include:
- What’s something new that you have learned or what skill have you improved since we last talked?
“The importance of this question is that sometimes we forget what we have learned. This question brings the company’s training efforts to the forefront of the employees’ mind.” Says Shea.
- What would you like to learn this month?
Shea points out that the answer does not always lie within his department. Maybe the employee wants to spend time with the sales team and develop sales skills.
- What is your proposal for advancing these skills?
“I have found my employees often have already thought of solutions to some of the roadblocks to advancing their training. As a new manager, I had to learn, it is not my job to find all the answers to my employees’ challenges. They typically have great ideas on how to make it happen.” Says Shea.
- What resources can I help you with?
“This question tells me how much assistance my employee wants from me and gives me a guideline moving forward.” Says Shea.
3. Ditching the Annual Review
As the Millennial generation entered the workforce, they forced the older generations to examine the usefulness of the annual review.
Millennials, a generation driven by timely and accurate feedback, had about as much use for the annual review as they did a typewriter. According to a People IQ survey, more than 85% of supervisors and team members felt annual reviews were not worth the paper they were written on.
“I always felt annual reviews spent more time talking about the employee and not talking to the employee.” Says Hannah Cambridge a Millennial manager.
As managers, Millennial’s quest to make the annual review extinct has not abated. Youth-led organizations and mainstream companies alike are scrapping the annual review to a more Feedback Driven approach.
Facebook, one of the most famous Millennial owned companies, utilizes a biannual review process. The employee evaluates themselves and then nominates three to five peers to evaluate them. The managers discuss the write-ups and compare the assessment with other assessments from different employees in comparable roles.
It is not only Millennial owned companies abolishing the yearly review but mainstream corporations too. Netflix, (Full disclosure I do have a Netflix account!) put the kibosh on annual reviews and launched a less formal “360-degree review.” The review is performed by the employees’ peers and is often done face-to-face. The process focuses on three questions:
- What should the employee stop doing?
- What should the employee start doing?
- And what should the employee continue doing?
Making Feedback a Priority
One may feel that all this talking is too time-consuming. If Millennial managers are continuously giving their teams feedback how will anything get done? Maybe we should be doing more working and less talking.
In reality when people feel heard productivity increases within all the generations. According to Harvard Business review high performers, people who exceed expectations and go above and beyond every day, want to meet with their leaders to discuss their progress at least monthly. Giving people feedback has positive side effects. It keeps people engaged, informed and satisfied in their jobs.
I will admit, I wish I could go back in time & swap out my manager, the one who I absolutely hated to hear from, for a manager intent on making feedback a priority. I may have had a more rewarding experience with my employer if I had someone who viewed feedback as an opportunity to learn from both sides.
As it is, I have a piece of feedback from a Millennial I wish I never received…my speeding ticket and an increase in my insurance rates!