It has been nearly 10 years since I first realized the Millennial generation of talent was different than previous generations. We began to research this cohort and, along the way, I became a huge fan. In our book, we attack the many myths about this generation and discuss the numerous skills they bring to the market.
One thing is certain, this generation is one of the most highly educated generations ever. They were born in the land of technology and have used it from the very beginning. They have had information at their fingertips their entire lives.
This fact created a generation of “knowers.” This generation is much more knowledgeable and can pass almost any test, on paper.
However, there is a difference between “knowing” and “doing.” Sometimes learning how to “do” requires experience. I often say you cannot hire a 30-year-old with 30 years of experience. The challenge with gaining experience is … it takes time. And, I might add, patience.
Business leaders today need to help their emerging talent to understand this fact. Knowing is not the same as doing, and experience cannot be obtained from a book. Both take time and patience.
When coaching millennials, we often see a need to develop more patience. This is a coaching opportunity for any manager with a millennial on their team. Even as an advocate for this cohort, I know it can be frustrating. However, it is a critical component to their development.
This is one of the reasons why feedback is so important. Feedback, contrary to a Baby Boomer definition, is not all about constructive criticism. It is providing both positive and developmental input.
Here is an exercise we recommend: Take a look at last week’s calendar. How many times did you sit with your millennial workforce and offer real-time feedback? If you did offer feedback, then list what was constructive and what was positive.
This exercise will help you visually see how you are helping your direct reports gain experience. Your feedback is a critical component of their learning experience.