Updated: Aug 23
TL;DR: Feedback drives engagement, but we keep failing at it. Here's how we get better.
Equip any manager with better questions for 1x1s & reviews (John Doerr, Measure What Matters Resources)
Embrace and hold space for healthy conflict (Liane Davey, Knowledge at Wharton)
In popular discourse, feedback is a 'nice to have'. A great 'soft skill' that amazing leaders do naturally! Something to try our best on - when we find the time.
I've personally experienced how a lack of meaningful manager feedback hindered my performance and career development.
This was compounded by a rigid annual review process. After Year 1 completed, a new manager changed our performance measurement. Following instructions from my previous manager, I had optimized for the wrong KPIs. This affected my career for the following two years.
During Year 2, I invested dozens of hours building the 5 Pillars for a new role in a fast-growing department. Those interviews failed. After some head-scratching and back channel feedback, I learned I was still technically paying off performance debt from the previous year.
That was some meaningful feedback I needed to have before setting my course and priorities in Year 2.
I wasted six months and nearly burned everyone who believed in me on three interview cycles with one possible administrative outcome: failure. Given the lumbering annual feedback cycle, I pivoted to focus the rest of Year 2 on 'rehabilitation' in role.
In Year 3 I finally transferred to a role better aligned with my skills and superpowers. It proved an immediate fit. I quickly grew into a top performer on the team.
Three years of my career were shaped by one change in management and goals.
Survey data reflects broad ambivalence about feedback in the workplace:
Gallup has found that only 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them do better work.
That's why I paid attention when Gallup published the data below.
Feedback and Engagement
Gallup observed a linear correlation between frequency of meaningful feedback and employee engagement.
Leaders have a vested interest here. Engagement links to “many