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For Employers

Trend 9: Performance feedback in 2024

Time to tailor it by generation

Published on

January 19, 2024


Note: This post is part of our Special Report: Top 10 people & culture trends for 2024.

As employers grapple with ways to boost productivity and lead a distributed workforce, the topic of performance keeps coming up. It’s especially complex today because, as the life expectancy has increased in Canada, and some people are staying employed longer, we now have up to five generations in the workplace.

Each generation tends to view feedback differently and has varying views of technology and preferences for recognition. When delivering feedback, it’s important to understand who you’re talking to, especially since generations in the workplace are predicted to change over the next few years, spurred by growing retirements.  

Today, millennials comprise roughly one-third of Canada’s workforce, and Gen Z—one of the most diverse of all generations—is poised to make up 27% of the global workforce by 2025, so it’s critical to attract and retain workers of this generation.  

How can you develop a performance strategy that works for everyone?

In 2024, offer feedback by generation

Each of us is influenced by a range of factors—generational, cultural, political, religious, geographical, socioeconomic etc.—resulting in an eclectic mix of team members with varying personalities and work styles. While it’s impossible to tailor performance strategies to each person, in general, studies have found that people born in different generations prefer to receive feedback in distinct ways.

Gen Z (1997 to 2012)

Digital natives, Gen Z came of age with cell phones, social media and new technologies like AI. Many of them entered the workforce remotely and have never known in-person work.

  • 75% of Gen Z employees surveyed said they want continuous feedback.
  • They prefer real-time, quick feedback—a 5-minute video/text check-in—rather than a formal, in-person performance review.  
  • 73% of Gen Z surveyed said they will resign if they don’t get regular feedback from their managers, according to a survey from StaffCircle.  

Millennials (1981 to 1996)

Many millennials started their careers at the beginning of the Great Recession and have since experienced high student loans, inflated living costs and global crises. Rather than receiving old-school ‘constructive criticism,’ this generation tends to prefer being coached. According to Forbes, instead of offering feedback, it’s better to offer your perspective. Here are five tips:

  • Ask for permission: “I have a perspective I’d like to share, are you willing to hear it?”
  • State the intention: “I’m sharing this with you to see you win as a project leader.”
  • Talk about behaviour: “During the last three meetings, you seemed quiet and like you were holding back.”
  • Highlight the impact of the behaviour: “When you hold back, we lose your knowledge and experience, and it might impact the results of our team.”
  • Make your request moving forward: “I have a request that at our next meeting you speak up about your ideas, and the status of your work in the project – your KPIs, goals and questions to help you advance.”

Gen X (1965 to 1980)

People born in this generation have been called “latch-key kids” because they were among the first to see both parents enter the workforce in large numbers. As such, they’re known to be self-sufficient, resourceful, autonomous and results driven.

  • They prefer informal, direct feedback—both positive and negative—delivered over email or in a meeting rather than via text or chat.  
  • Since they seek autonomy, they want to be trusted, not micromanaged.  
  • They tend to appreciate personal—not public—recognition and autonomy.
  • They don’t need continuous feedback—just an occasional check-in is enough (unless they’re not doing a good job).  

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

On average, baby boomers hold 12 jobs over their lifetime—only half of which are after the age of 24—so they tend to have a heightened sense of loyalty. They value hard work, structure and clear goals.  

  • They prefer clear, direct feedback and tend to take criticism very seriously.  
  • They want feedback that is well-researched and backed up by data.
  • Encourage them to provide their own feedback—with so much experience, they have valuable insights to share.

Tips for 2024

In addition to the tips above, for all generations:

  • As our co-founder and CEO, Kathryn Tremblay, wrote in this blog post, the key to providing good feedback regardless of generation is to frame it with POSITIVITY and POSSIBILITY.  
  • Read The Feedback Fallacy (subscription required) by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall—an article selected by HBR as one of their 12 most influential reads from the past 100 years!  
  • Ensure the goals for each person are aligned with your larger strategic goals and that the team member understands the connection (i.e., how they contribute to your mission as an organization).  
  • Encourage two-way feedback as a leader to foster open communication and build trust.
  • Have team members participate in building their own goals rather than assigning them.

Read our next trend to watch in 2024: Trend 10: Mental health in 2024: Beware of “wellbeing washing”

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