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Giving negative feedback to Millennials: How can managers criticize the “most praised” generation

Emylee Anderson (Foster College of Business, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, USA)
Aaron A. Buchko (Foster College of Business, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, USA)
Kathleen J. Buchko (College of Education, Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, USA)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 20 June 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Demographic data indicate that the Millennial generation (those born between 1982 and the early 2000s) are entering the workforce and will become an increasingly significant component of the workforce in the near future. The Millennial generation appears to have significant differences in values, attitudes and expectations regarding work than prior generations.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors reviewed the literature on the “Millennial” generation (those born between 1982 and the early 2000s) and the research on giving negative feedback to identify issues that are significant with respect to the manner in which managers give negative information to this new generation of workers.

Findings

To be effective, negative feedback to Millennials needs to be consistent and ongoing. The feedback must be perceived by Millennials as benefitting them now or in the future. Managers must be assertive enough to make sure the employee understands the concerns, but sensitive to the fact that many Millennials have difficulty accepting such feedback.

Research limitations/implications

These findings offer suggestions for future research that needs to explicitly examine the differences in the new generation of workers and how these persons respond to current managerial practices.

Practical implications

Millennials are now entering the workforce in significant numbers. Managers will find increasing opportunities to address the organizational and individual needs of these workers. Managers must learn how to effectively direct and motivate this generation of workers, including how to provide constructive negative feedback.

Social implications

Demographic data indicate that the so-called “Baby Boom” generation will be leaving the workforce in large numbers over the next few years, and will be replaced by the Millennial generation.

Originality/value

To date, there has been little attempt by management researchers to address the organizational implications of the generational shift that is occurring. We seek to draw attention to one specific area of management practice – delivering negative feedback – and explore how the knowledge may be changing as a new generation of workers enter the workplace.

Keywords

Citation

Anderson, E., Buchko, A.A. and Buchko, K.J. (2016), "Giving negative feedback to Millennials: How can managers criticize the “most praised” generation", Management Research Review, Vol. 39 No. 6, pp. 692-705. https://doi.org/10.1108/MRR-05-2015-0118

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited