David Strittmatter

From Complaints to Commitment: The Power of Effective Feedback

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. – Bill Gates

Dear friend,

In the week of February 27th, I will attend the Green Business Building Summit in Berlin. Please let me know if you are down to meet me on March 1st or 2nd. And if you’re building a climate tech hardware startup and interested in the conference, also let me know.

Currently, I’m reading and watching a lot about what makes an early-stage founder and CEO succeed in building an organization. 1 topic I deep-dived into the past days was feedback.

If you work in a job or are still in your studies, the learnings I made and will outline here are of use to you too. So, continue reading:

When talking to friends currently employed at startups and larger corporations, 90% of them complain about their leaders. It’s not that they are totally unhappy. But they have reasons to be dissatisfied.

This dissatisfaction comes down to leaders incapable of giving and receiving feedback. Concretely:

  • They are not able to give objective feedback – i.e., do not provide concrete observations but make subjective claims about what should be improved, usually too intangible and inconsistent to act upon.
  • They are not able to receive (bottom-up) feedback – i.e., do not listen and act upon feedback they receive from their direct reports.
  • They are not able to provide appreciation (strength-based) – i.e., do not appraise the extra effort and time spent and above average performance.

The consequence: My friends (their employees) are less motivated and will eventually churn (quit). No because their job sucks but their leaders.

There’s is this saying: People leave their bosses, not companies.

If you look at the data, that’s usually not true. Eventually, people quit their job (as you can read in this Harvard Business Review article – summary by ChatGPT below).

However, the person responsible for the job and how people feel about it is the manager. Hence, it still comes down to the leaders of an organization whether a person stays (motivated) or eventually quits.

All the best to you and yours,


Summary of HBR article by ChatGPT: The article explains that people leave jobs, not bosses, according to the results of an engagement survey conducted by Facebook. The survey showed that people left their jobs when they did not find their work enjoyable, their strengths were not being utilized, and they were not developing in their careers. To prevent employees from leaving, the article suggests that managers should focus on designing work experiences that are enjoyable, utilize employees’ strengths, and accommodate personal priorities. This can include creating roles that align with employees’ passions, allowing them to utilize their strengths, and finding ways to minimize the trade-off between work and personal life. By doing so, managers can help create jobs that are too good to leave.

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