Getting each generation to embrace performance management

Image: Getting each generation to embrace performance management

Defining Performance Management

Performance management can be defined in a number of different ways. At its core, it is a process designed to deliver business results through high-performing employees. Performance management allows you to get better results from your organization, your team and your employees by allowing everyone involved to understand and manage performance. This is done within an agreed framework of planned goals, standards and competency requirements.

Each generation’s willingness to embrace performance management depends upon differing values, perspectives and comfort level with receiving feedback.

Performance Management for all Four Generations

Most Traditionalists are used to working in an environment where the only performance feedback they receive is either very good news or very bad news – you’re promoted or you’re fired. This generation has only recently been exposed to on-going performance feedback at work. It can sometimes be difficult for Traditionalists to adapt to receiving more frequent feedback and therefore they may require additional support on how to approach a collaborative performance management process.

Baby Boomers are used to receiving informal comments from senior leaders, but many still consider the performance management process to be “secretive.” They’re accustomed to decisions being handled by management alone. In addition, some Baby Boomers tend to downplay their weaknesses and while eagerly highlighting their strengths in order to impress their managers. Baby Boomers will be most comfortable with a performance management process that is conducted annually or bi-annually. They appreciate being included in the decision process and are more open to feedback if you engage them in the conversation and allow them to provide feedback on their performance.

Gen X employees expect to receive feedback more frequently, perhaps on a quarterly or monthly basis. Gen Xers don’t want to spend time focusing on what they already do well. They would rather understand how they can improve. Leaders should provide specific feedback, with examples of what they would like Gen Xers to improve upon as well as a deadline and suggestions for how to make improvements. Gen Xers will want to know how success will be measured and what resources and support will be provided. Performance standards should be concretely linked to career goals and individual development plans.

Gen Ys are eager to receive feedback on a regular basis, often daily. However, since this cohort has always received positive, esteem-building praise from teachers and parents, Gen Ys often fear failure and may not be well prepared to receive negative feedback. When conducting performance discussions with Gen Ys, managers are most successful then they seek employees’ self-assessments first, highlight developmental opportunities with a focus on the positive and create a collaborative plan to improve performance. This will avoid plummeting motivation and engagement levels of Gen Ys.

It is also important to remember that Gen Ys openly share their performance management ratings and discussions with their peers, so what is said to one employee, is shared with many.

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