More Than Words

best practice communication retention Dec 03, 2022

When you think about the power of words, consider how your feedback (or lack thereof) can deeply transform your organization’s culture.

When you think about what drives individuals to keep coming back to work everyday, there are three factors that come to mind:

  1. Culture
  2. Opportunity
  3. Performance

Let’s dive into each of these components to explore what they mean to team members and how they can make or break the results of your organization.


The culture of an organization is led by the leader.  A leader sets the tone for the values, norms, traditions and overall “feel” of the organization.  When team members are excited to come into work everyday and there is a thriving culture, retention will increase.  Others will be attracted to work within the organization as well, affording you the opportunity to hire top talent.  Culture is created…and if you do not create a culture that thrives – your culture will be dictated by the actions of those trying to survive.


Team members who know there are always opportunities for them to advance, give back or tap into their talents are more likely to pursue leadership opportunities within your organization.  For some, it is not always about moving up the career ladder.  Sometimes, team members want the opportunity to lead a volunteer initiative in the community or utilize talents that they may not be able to in their day-to-day role.  Deeply knowing your team members is what makes room for these types of opportunities. When you see value in all that team members have to offer, you have validated who they are.


Performance reviews often have very limited ability to push team members forward.  They are one small snapshot in the entire photo album that makes that person who they are.  Think about it.  If you went on vacation for one month and took just one photo, would we see all that you had experienced?  Not hardly.  In order to develop high performing teams within your organization, it starts with specifically providing feedback on performance.  Sometimes, this may require a difficult conversation and sometimes it may be positive.  But until you start noticing each team member that you lead, you will not take the steps to provide specific feedback.

I have a good principal friend who always seeks out feedback, but unfortunately, her supervisor just can’t seem to find the time to provide this.  She often feels alone in her work with nobody to lean on. And I don’t think this (unfortunately) is uncommon, especially in school leadership.  Whether you are a superintendent, principal or teacher – everyone desires to know the answer to the question, “How am I doing?”  And this isn’t because you are needy; it is because you want to do your very best.

Not getting what you need in regards to opportunity or performance?  I would start here:

  • Advocate for yourself. If you have a supervisor who is not providing you with feedback, start here!  Sometimes it is not that this person can’t or does not want to – maybe they just do not realize it is something you are needing to be successful.  Ask and seek to receive.
  • Flex your feedback muscle. When you do receive feedback, even if you do not agree 100% – learn how to receive and process feedback.  Sometimes, those who give feedback start refraining from dishing it out when the receiver’s response is unfavorable.
  • Find personal and professional mentors. Whether you are in a great relationship or not with your supervisor, this is highly recommended.  You need trusted confidants who you can confide in for both personal and professional matters. If you are not asking others, you are only relying on yourself, affording no other perspectives.  Two heads are better than one!
  • Connect with like-minded professionals.  Surround yourself with others who share common goals professionally.  This does not mean they will think exactly like you, but you will be exposing yourself to a variety of perspectives, which can enhance your leadership abilities.

Effective communication regarding culture, opportunity and performance are the difference between good and great organizations.  In order to recruit the brightest, retain the best and achieve the highest results, it is necessary to understand the power of specific and actionable communication.  Feedback is not just “good job” or “why did you do that?!”  Feedback is proactive and on purpose.

How is consistent communication and feedback moving your organization forward?



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