• Neil

74% of Us Aren't Getting Feedback We Need

Updated: Aug 23

TL;DR: Feedback drives engagement, but we keep failing at it. Here's how we get better.

  1. Equip any manager with better questions for 1x1s & reviews (John Doerr, Measure What Matters Resources)

  2. Train and practice frameworks for how high-performing teams give effective feedback and receive effective feedback (Edwin Dando,

  3. Embrace and hold space for healthy conflict (Liane Davey, Knowledge at Wharton)

74% of us aren't getting value here. Image: Airfocus

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