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Alexandra Reese's Growth Guide

Timely leadership insights to accelerate your growth & impact


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This week, you’ll learn how to diagnose a feedback problem in your organization and what to do about it! This is a deep dive into one facet of last week’s edition, Make Performance Management Your Unfair Advantage.


Many organizations stopped doing performance management during covid. Now, they’re bringing performance management back. So, I’ve been facilitating a lot of organizational assessments and performance reviews over the past year.


And I’ve noticed a troubling trend:

Many leaders are shockingly unaware of what's happening in their organizations

And when you look at the data on feedback and engagement, it makes perfect sense:

If feedback is a two-way street, then there’s a giant accident blocking both lanes of traffic.

Employees aren’t getting the feedback they need to feel recognized, valued, and supported to improve. And leaders aren’t getting the feedback they need to make smart decisions to improve the health of the organization.

Here are eight signs you have a feedback problem too:

  1. You only receive feedback from people directly above and below you
  2. You have little insight into how people view their managers
  3. Recognition is not a daily habit across the organization
  4. You’re often surprised by exit interview results
  5. You haven’t done a 360 assessment in years
  6. You rarely receive unsolicited feedback
  7. You don’t trust your team to work remotely
  8. You can't name the top priorities of your people 


To get feedback flowing, focus on culture

The data show that people want to get and receive more and better feedback. So, it’s not a desire problem. It’s a culture problem. 

People must feel safe giving and receiving feedback. They must have the skill and ability, which takes work to develop. And they must know how to do it in a culturally-appropriate way, a challenge given the relatively short-tenure of most employees.

A culture of feedback has four elements


Get started with these three steps:

1. Amp-up recognition

Recognition is your most powerful feedback tool, as it’s the most effective at reinforcing expectations. Science shows that positive reinforcement can have a more powerful influence on behavior than corrective feedback or punishment.

It also pays dividends is psychological safety, engagement, and retention. According to Gallup, employees who receive effective recognition are:


2. Follow-through

Most organizations conducted a host of listening sessions, pulse surveys, and interviews during covid to get feedback on the wellbeing and engagement of their people. But only 40% of organizations followed through on what they heard with meaningful action.


When you don’t follow-through on what you hear, your engagement activities will do more harm than good. In the short term, you’ll lose credibility and trust. Over the long term, employees will stop offering feedback and simply disengage or quit when things go south.


If follow-through is so important, why don’t all leaders do it? Because they mistakenly think it means taking action to address what you hear, and that’s not always feasible. So, they avoid closing the loop for fear of disappointing their people.


The fact is, follow-through can be simple. Focus on active listening to demonstrate you value and care about your people by recapping:

  • Here’s what we asked
  • Here’s what we heard
  • Here’s what we’re doing

And, if you can’t take action to address specific concerns, a short explanation for the decision will suffice.

3. Set expectations

Fair, actionable, and pain-free feedback begins with clear expectations. Each team and individual should have clear performance expectations. And the organization as a whole should have clear behavioral expectations. These expectations should serve as the foundation for all feedback.  


The start of the new year is the perfect time to clarify expectations. If you’d like to read more on this topic, I recommend you check-out my last Growth Guide edition on performance management


At this point, you probably have a good sense for the health of your feedback culture. If you’re feeling confident, congratulations! I’d love to hear from you, so I can share your story in a future edition. If you’re worried, please feel free to reach out. I’m here for you.


Opportunities to Partner

Growth Mastermind: You’re ready to transform your life, organization, and legacy while building lifelong relationships with other likeminded leaders. The Growth Mastermind integrates coaching, strategic advisory, and peer-to-peer learning to push the bounds of your leadership potential and impact. This unique developmental experience will bring together small groups of four to six growth-minded leaders who are in similar stages of their leadership journeys. Read more and sign-up here.

One-on-one and Team Coaching: You're ready to improve your life, leadership, and impact. As your coach, I'll work with you (and your leadership team, if desired) to clarify your vision and purpose, set bold goals, build an actionable strategy, and cultivate the mindset, beliefs, and behaviors necessary to achieve sustainable results without pain and stress. 

Growth Advisory: You've been working diligently to grow your organization, but have yet to achieve sustainable results. Or perhaps you've done exceptionally well and are ready to take things to a new level. I can help you hone a compelling vision and strategy, then execute with confidence, ease, and joy. 


Links to Past Editions

Here are links to the first seven editions:

Nov 10: Make performance management your unfair advantage

Oct: 1/ The four elements of a high-performing leadership team, 2/ Cultivate an empowered leadership mindset

Sep: 1/ Replan for Q4, 2/ Jumpstart growth through self-awareness, 3/ Three Qs to save you BIG in your next strategy process 

Aug: 1/ Adapt your strategy process, 2/ Support your mid-level managers, 3/ Halt your mid-career crisis

Jul: 1/ Win with values, 2/ How to get hybrid work right, 3/ Vacation like a European

Jun: 1/ The mid-year review, 2/ Sharpen your creative skills, 3/ Win through failure

May: 1/ Prepare for downturns; 2/ Better, faster decisions; 3/ Embrace difference to improve performance

Apr: 1/ The Q1 review, 2/ Prime yourself for success, 3/ Focus your innovation investments for impact


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