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What do Millennials Expect from Performance Reviews?

According to a study conducted by Manpower Group, 35% of the global workforce is going to be comprised of millennials in the year 2020. Millennials are often characterized by being entitled. Millennials usually prefer clarity in terms of what the end goal is before starting to work on their tasks. Millennials are not the kind of people who would drag their tasks for a longer time. They would try to get their work done on time.  

In such a scenario, organizations are constantly trying to transform their work culture to meet the requirements of the millennial workforce. Since we are discussing transforming our work culture, it is important to keep in mind that the way in which performance reviews are conducted, is very much important to building a company culture. Performance reviews are important because they have a crucial role to play when it comes to employee engagement and performance management.   

Having an effective performance management system in place helps in retaining the best employees and motivate underperforming employees. However, the way in which performance reviews were conducted among our previous generations is not very relevant to the millennial generation anymore. It is unreliable. The problem with traditional performance reviews is that it is often past-oriented and operational. It is not strategic.  

The traditional performance review process gives room for individual subjectivity and biases; therefore, they are not the accurate form of performance reviews. Our previous generation was then not able to question their performance reviews. They would simply accept it and not challenge anything. However, the millennial workforce, as we had established in the beginning, is completely the opposite: they are entitled and straightforward.   

They prefer to validate everything thoroughly before they accept anything. Millennials would analyze the reasons behind those employee performance reviews. Therefore, it is important that performance reviews eliminate the elements of human subjectivity and psychological biases. Since the millennials are going to occupy half of the workforce, it may be a good idea to analyze how millennials perceive performance reviews in general and what is it that they expect:  


Millennials often prefer autonomy over following orders blindly. An employee’s productivity keeps changing according to external circumstances. Sometimes they give their best and sometimes they give their worst. With millennials, we need to remember that they do not like to work under stringent conditions, and they prefer to be in their comfort zone. They can only work when there is minimal intervention.   

Therefore, when they can finish their tasks on time, without hampering the team’s productivity, then such form of autonomy could be allowed. When performance reviews hold such form of autonomy against the employees, then it would only lead to frustration and leave the organization immediately. It is understandable that as managers, it is important to intervene to get the work done.   

But millennials would perceive this as constant pestering and a sign of mistrust towards the employees. At the same time, they do not shy away from seeking help when they need it.  

Career development  

There was a time when our employees would just sit and work in the office from 9 to 5 until their retirement. Job security was prioritized in the previous generation. It would usually take a few years or more for them to get promoted to a greater role and even if they didn’t, they would be comfortable where they are. They would not demand for a higher position or any form of career guidance. However, millennials like to explore everything.   

They run towards opportunities and give importance to career development so that they rise in the company. Therefore, they would always want to get training and guidance in areas of improvement and skills required for their job. Therefore, performance reviews must be partnered with developmental opportunities for the employees to build their skills and competencies.  


As we discussed earlier, the previous generation used a traditional approach to performance reviews. Performance reviews would only be conducted on an annual basis. Due to annual performance reviews, managers would often miss out on employee achievements and constraints faced by the employee. Therefore, such reviews would often be vague and lack authenticity because it is completely based on what the manager remembers.  

Employees would often not receive guidance regarding how they can improve their strengths and weaknesses. Contrary to such an approach, millennials prefer performance reviews to be very concise in terms of performance expectations and pitfalls. They want to know how their performance impacts their company objectives. The aim here is to make performance reviews deliver the strategic outcome of your business. Then your employees would be motivated to work hard.  

Annual performance reviews: Aaarrrggghhh!!!  

Millennials hate annual reviews. They are inconsistent. Simply put, they do not have the patience to wait for a year to review their performance. Annual reviews are not helpful because they lack frequent feedback. Therefore, conducting periodic performance reviews helps employees to track their career progression. Periodic performance reviews help employees to understand their strengths and weaknesses and formulate strategies to improve their performance.  

On top of that, companies can leverage technology such as performance management software to facilitate continuous communication. Performance management software acts as a digital platform for goals management, continuous feedback, and employee recognition. This results in better employee engagement because your periodic performance reviews are now holistic and comprehensive.  

One size does not fit all  

On one hand, when I am suggesting that companies need to find new strategies to improve performance reviews for the millennials, it is not possible for us to tailor the entire performance review process to suit millennials alone. It is established that they will be the rulers at least for the next couple of years, however, it is not possible for us to generalize their needs and come up with one standard approach.   

Because this approach may not be applicable to the next generation. The solution here is to create a systematic, streamlined performance review mechanism to fit all generations. It needs to be malleable enough to allow significant changes at some points. We may not know what the next generation demands. 

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