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Jul 1, 2015

Monday’s big keynote speaker at the annual SHRM conference in Las Vegas was the ever popular Marcus Buckingham.

Marcus has the great English accent, high energy and great leadership content to share. He’s strong every time I’ve seen him, going on way too many times at this point in my life!

The big bomb he dropped on the SHRMies this session was the money-shot quote of the conference: Millennials don’t want feedback!

Marcus Buckingham
Marcus Buckingham

We’ve all been told by thought leaders and Millennial experts for a decade that all Millennials want is feedback and work-life balance! They don’t want money or power or ice in their beer, just feedback and time off.

Marcus put a stop to all of this, and had the data to back it up!

Forget feedback; we really want attention

In reality, Marcus told us the truth. Millennials, and the rest of us, don’t want feedback; we all want attention.

Pay attention to us!  Stop by frequently and see how we are doing, give us some insight to our near future, help us get our jobs done. But, please, don’t give us feedback on what we are doing wrong!

No one wants that. The whole reason performance reviews fail is because they don’t deliver what we truly want — attention, not feedback. So, our “HR” answer to this is to do what? Let’s do more frequent, smaller, feedback sessions!


Unfortunately, this is going to be big old Titanic to turn around. The wheels have been in motion to long to stop what we’ve already started. HR technology platforms and your processes are already in place. Your managers have already been trained, and now you want us to stop?

Basically, yes.

Better organizations give more and better feedback

Those organizations with high engagement are not the ones who are giving more feedback. They are the ones who are paying more attention to their employees. Yes, there is a difference.2015 SHRM Conference1

This is fraught with issues for most HR pros and organizations because it feels a little pie in the sky-ish. There is an assumption that you pay attention to your employees and they’ll just magically do what they’re supposed to do, and we live happily ever after, cats and dogs living together.

We know that isn’t reality.

Some employees need to be managed to get the most out of them. They need to be held accountable. I do think there is a balance that we can get to when it comes to paying attention to our employees like they want, and being able to “manage” them like the business needs.

Managers need to know that even with those employees they’ve worked with for a long time, it’s critical that they don’t stop paying attention to what they’re doing, professionally and personally. Also, our employees need to understand that, yes, we care about you, but that doesn’t mean you can just not perform the job you were hired to do.

The goal: engaged, productive people

I don’t need engaged employees that don’t do the job they were hired to do. I want engaged, productive employees.

It’s all about balancing your approach, and I love that Marcus Buckingham put to bed the concept that Millennials just want feedback!

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

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