So How Should Millennials Give Feedback To Baby Boomers? It’s a question that is being asked more and more in today’s workplace.
Hi, my name is Meagan Johnson. I’m a professional speaker and Generational Humorist. I speak to groups, audiences, associations and corporations about the multiple generations in the workforce, the marketplace and even in our own houses. Today, I’m talking to my dad. He’s also professional speaker, Larry Johnson. He’s co-author of the best-selling and absolutely fabulous book, Absolute Honesty. He’s also written several articles on the art of being honest and candid, such as “Honest Feedback: Helping Employees Accept It” and “Truth To Power: Avoiding The Naked Emperor Syndrome.”
The reason I’m interviewing him is that recently, I had a millennial audience members ask me, “How best to give absolutely honest feedback to somebody she was managing but was also, she says this person is old enough to be my mom or dad. I feel a little awkward giving them feedback.” So, I thought I’d ask my dad who is also a baby boomer and also co-author of the best-selling book, “Generations, Inc.” a book we wrote together.
So dad, how should Millennials give feedback to Baby Boomers in general, and specifically, to this person she’s managing? I think we’re safe to assume that it’s corrective feedback, it’s not a compliment? It’s behavior that she wants this person that she is managing to change.
Larry: I think it kind of depends on how the older person perceives this younger person’s area of expertise. In other words, what right does this person have to tell me how I should do anything? I know, as a baby boomer, I really appreciate the younger person who coaches me on how to better use my software, how to use my computer, how to use the internet, how to do social media because I need the coaching. I have no problem accepting that. Now, where we get in to some tricky territory is when the younger manager is going to coach me about something I think I know everything about.
Meagan: Ugh. And I think that’s where this millennial struggling, yeah.
Larry: Yeah. And I think that it’s important that she preface whatever she’s going to say to this person with some acknowledgement of his or her experience. For example, “I know you have a lot of experience in this area dealing with customers who are upset, and I respect that. I’m concerned however, because when you said to the customer, “Don’t worry your pretty little head.”
Meagan: Now who said to the customer, “Don’t worry pretty little head?” The older person?
Larry: The older person.
Meagan: Okay. Probably a term of affection in his mind.
Larry: Right, right. So the younger person who is the manager needs to give honest the older person honest feedback to correct that. For one thing that’s just not appropriate because it can almost be interpreted as sexual harassment. But she needs to do it in a way that minimizes the chances he becomes defensive. She might say something like: I know that things have changed over the years, but I were that customer, I would have found ‘Don’t worry your pretty little head’ offensive. So, I’m wondering if maybe this customer found it that way.
Meagan: Okay. So, you’re couching in how the customer might respond to this older person using that kind of outdated language.
Larry: Yeah. In other words, not going after the older person for not knowing what he’s doing but describe the effect of what he’s doing.
Larry: And maybe make a suggestion on how he might approach the customer differently differently.
Meagan: Okay. I think that’s great advice. Thank you dad.
Larry: You’re welcome.
Megan: Do you feel like you did a good job here?
Larry: I did, but most importantly you’re the boss, what did you think?
Meagan: Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.
Meagan: I look forward to seeing everybody next week when we continue to talk about the ever-changing generations in the workforce, the marketplace and even in your own home. Bye. Say bye, dad.
Larry: Oh, bye.
And that’s how Millennials give feedback to Baby Boomers.