How to Give your Millennial Leader Feed-forward, Not Feedback

assisting Millennials to improve their performance

Leadership, Millennials, Sales Coaching & Mentoring

How to Give your Millennial Leader Feed-forward, Not Feedback

“Because of the very tearing of the fabric of our society, Millennials have grown up with little or no mentoring, or positive influence from an elder.  How do we shape them to be the next great generation?” Jim Brangenberg asked this critical question.

Jim and his wife, Martha recently interviewed me to discuss my new leadership guidebook, Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.

What are you doing to guide the Millennial sales leader in your business so that they reach their full potential?

BTW: Thanks, Jeff Pelletier from Life’s Core Purpose, for the introduction to Jim.

During our interview time, we discovered that Jim and Martha would be in Minneapolis at the same time as my husband Gordon, and I. We committed to meet up and had an energizing, fun time and became fast friends. Then, we had another engaging interview where they asked me about my heart for the Millennials Matter Movement.

Jim hosts the iWork4Him Radio program. It’s the only daily Faith and Work radio program in America.  Listen to our podcast conversation by clicking here.

“Millennials Matter has practical go-to ideas on how you can mentor, coach, and build your next-gen leader. It’s a guidebook for business leaders, parents and grandparents, school teachers and principals and… I’m…

“Millennials Matter has practical go-to ideas on how you can mentor, coach, and build your next-gen leader. It’s a guidebook for business leaders, parents and grandparents, school teachers and principals and… I’m amazed at how God is using the book.” ~ Danita Bye

Our discussion included talking about the three cornerstones of Millennials Matter – developing character, confidence, and collaboration in your emerging leader. Martha got very passionate and excited when I talked about the concept of convergence. It explains why experienced leaders need to mentor and coach Millennials with their wisdom, insights, and talents.

“I’m so excited that there’s a resource available to people to say, ‘Here’s what to do and here’s how to lead Millennials, how to come alongside them and how to employ them.’ Even those that have hung up their hat, have so much left to offer. Why not challenge yourself to fill your time with feeding into the future?” ~ Martha Brangenberg

One of the highlights of our conversation was our discussion about a new way of assisting Millennials to improve their performance.

What’s Feed-Forward? 

I discovered an important difference between Millennials and previous generations when it comes to giving and receiving performance feedback.

The older generations were lucky to get an annual formal performance appraisal. This is not good enough for Millennials. 72% of Millennials want constant feedback on how they’re doing.

During a recent conversation with a client, I learned about a transformation in the “giving regular feedback” process. She said it is even better to provide your Millennial with feed-forward instead of feedback.  Jim was curious to learn more about this strategy.  Here’s how it works:

Conventional feedback provides information about past performance – and we often focus on what has gone wrong. Feed-forward, however, guides your Millennial leader to see what they might be doing differently in future to get better results. This challenges them to make on-going, positive adjustments in how they are performing.

This subtle difference in how you deliver the message will have a tremendous effect on the success of your sales coaching conversations. Old-fashioned feedback opens up the door to excuse-making and blame-gaming. Feed-forward has several benefits. It improves the levels of motivation, engagement, accountability, and personal and professional growth.  Compare these two conversations:

Feedback

Sales Manager: “This is not how I imagined this sales presentation will turn out. Why did you do it like that?”

Millennial: (Is defensive) “Well, I didn’t have enough time and …………….” (Excuses, blame-gaming, and a lack of accepting responsibility follow. This response was probably set off by the sales manager’s question starting with “why” – a word that always triggers immediate defensive reactions.)

Sales Manager: “Well, this is not the way I wanted you to do your presentation. This is what has gone wrong. (List of “mistakes” follows.) Next time you’ll have to do it right.”

The result? No personal or professional development was accomplished. Motivation and engagement levels will surely drop and there isn’t much realistic hope that a future sales conversation will turn out any better, is there?

Feed-forward

Sales Manager: “As we’re planning our presentation for next week, what did you learn from the presentation last week that might assist us to get the result we desire?”

Millennial: Feels no threat in this question. He or she feels engaged and excited about the idea that their input is valued as they plan the next sales presentation. The emerging sales leader calmly and creatively contributes ideas.

Sales Manager: “I like your ideas. I can tell you have gained valuable experience from our presentation last week. What would you say to my suggestion to …………………?” (The sales manager is able to build on the Millennial’s ideas, or guide him towards a more desirable approach in a non-judgmental way.)

Millennial: Constructive brainstorming of ideas is now taking place. The Millennial learns even more from the sales manager’s suggestions. He or she comes up with more ideas for improvement and is confident to ask the sales manager’s advice on certain issues. (In this atmosphere your Millennial will not see asking for help as a sign of weakness.)

Even the most carefully worded feedback might be interpreted as criticism. Conversely, a coaching and mentoring discussion that is future focused stimulate creative problem solving and improved results. A win-win scenario is created because:

  • the emerging sales leader feels valued, engaged and motivated;
  • he or she has gained valuable knowledge about the sales process;
  • a relationship of trust between mentor and mentee has been strengthened; and,
  • both parties have a realistic hope for future improved results.

How might you shift your sales coaching conversations to provide feed-forward to your Millennial leader?

Jim and Martha utilize their networking expertise to arrange daily interviews with authors, workplace believers, and ministries that are connecting faith and work. They share my passion to provide experienced leaders with tips, tools, and talk tracks to mentor emerging leaders. If you are interested to learn more, you can listen to the full conversations here. And here.

FYI: Check out this broadcasts that Jim and Martha did while in Minnesota: John Turnipseed, Bloodline; Bill Has, Craig Smith & Dr. Ryan O’Leary for Tribal Rescue; and Dr. Alan Cureton from University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

This article features in my August 2018 Newsletter.

Leadership Lesson:  Feed-forward coaching and mentoring discussions with your Millennial sales leader will stimulate creative problem solving and improved results.

Leadership Question:  How does your Millennial sales leader react to traditional feedback discussions?

© Copyright 2018 Danita Bye

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