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You probably have had a taste of how Millennials (which is another term for Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1996s) often feel at the workplace, especially recent graduates who are in their first real professional role.

This group is often referred to as Gen Y because of their tendency to ask why at every given opportunity. It is definitely a characteristic that – while not true for every single Gen Y individual – is a common thread among working youth that sets them apart from Gen X and Boomers.

At NATCON this past week we were privileged to be able to attend Dr. Karyn Gordon’s entertaining, energetic and informative presentation on Gen Y. We were thrilled to follow up with our own presentation the following morning at NATCON where attendees were able to ask pointed questions about some of the revelations about Millennials.

Many wanted to better understand why feedback and direct communication is such a critical factor for success in working with this generation.

Having recently conducted a comprehensive, nation-wide study on Canadian Gen Y, and having launched thousands of careers through our paid internship program for recent graduates, we like to consider ourselves experts on Gen Y as well, so I will attempt to answer this.

First of all, Dr. Karyn provides a great foundation for understanding this. In a recent blog post on she wrote:

They grew up with constant feedback from parents, teachers, tutors, coaches etc., often telling them they can do anything. As a result, Gen Y’s need regular, specific and concrete feedback and I’m not talking about the traditional bi-annual performance review. One Gen Y told me that he started his job in September but didn’t get any feedback till almost January. In his frustration he told me “Karyn at university I’m getting constant feedback and grades about how I’m doing – right now I have no clue if I’m even close to what is required of me.” Getting regular, respectful and timely feedback is critical to engage and motivate this generation.

Considering that many Gen Y are such a team-oriented bunch, it makes sense that they crave feedback, because they want to know that they are doing a good job. Not just because they want to do well for themselves or because they want the recognition, but because they do not want to let down the team.

Some members of the X and Boomer generations will groan at the thought of a Gen Y in the office asking millions of questions while you try to get your work done. That would be a shame, because asking “why” is the first step towards process improvement, eliminating waste and inefficiencies, creativity, innovation and ultimately, growth.

Gen Y, especially recent graduates, bring a much-needed fresh perspective to the workplace that experience can sometimes be lost with experience.

It’s quite likely that every generation, upon entering the workplace, was filled with confusion, curiosity and even criticisms of their environment and perhaps the only difference is that Gen Y has the tools, the confidence and encouragement to come out and as why. After all, why not?