Feedback: Friend or Foe?

I love football, and I watch it regularly — especially when the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing. I recently was watching a game, and one of my favorite players, Troy Polamalu, made an outstanding play. With cameras watching, he ran back to the huddle and was attentively listening to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger calling the next play, when one of the players nudged Troy and pointed to the JumboTron. Troy lifted his head and turned to watch as the play that he just ran was being replayed. He was suddenly mesmerized as he watched himself in HD.

It got me thinking: Troy is like several other millennials who enjoy instant feedback on a job or task that they have completed. Not every Gen Yer has the luxury of being able to replay their work on a 30-foot screen before 65,000 raving fans, but this generation is technologically savvy and likes immediate feedback. And they were raised to get feedback. Can’t kick a soccer ball? Let me show you how to do it, and give you feedback on your style. Having trouble with your algebra? No worries, if you fail the test, you can get feedback from your teacher and retake it.

This constant cycle of feedback can become exhausting for leaders — or it can be a huge benefit; it depends on your perspective. I see it as an opportunity to help young high potentials be their best. I’ve noticed that they may crave a lot of feedback, but they also respond quickly to what they hear, especially if it helps them to further develop their career. My advice to leaders is this: Pay attention to millennials who are interested in feedback; the ones who aren’t might not be engaged or giving you their best.