"Feedback that goes unheard" - why people quit their jobs

This article states that people are leaving organizations even more now because their feedback isn’t heard.
Obviously, this has a lot to do with sociocracy … where we build systems to make sure people’s input and ideas are heard and flow to the places where they can be implemented.

Anyone have stories and/or reactions to this?

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This has been true in my personal history. I have resigned from 3 jobs due to perceiving dynamics that I did not agree with (and a lack of channels to address them). In one case, others also resigned (and those who remained were not the best talents but those who could take it the most or did not have the financial security to take that risk). Part of the reason why I became a sociocracy (and why I feel so privileged to have had the support of jumping with a family parachute to protect me).


I think this is true in general, but perhaps more true for Millennials which are a growing contingency of the workforce (35% in 2020).

This research article from the Journal of Business and Psychology speaks to the character of many millennials which values open communication, shared goals and vision, etc. These facets are inherent to sociocracy, but often missing in older hierarchical power-over organizational models.

While I certainly don’t think this is limited to millennials, I do think the importance of these facets to millennials is indicative of this overall trend.

There are a lot of discussion about why places are struggling to find workers, and if the worker shortage is real, etc. I personally do think that an unwillingness to work unreasonable conditions, including those which lack alignment are reasons, but why it’s coming up now of all times is perhaps a more complex question.

Feeling that your feedback is not heard, appreciated or acted upon, reminds me of the ‘Resistance Line’ I read about in a Dutch book called ‘Deep Democracy’ by Jitske Kramer of 2019 (Sorry, no translation folks but a free dutch pdf instead :wink:). Among many other fine points and facilitation techniques written in this short piece, it describes the resistance line as a progression of behavior when feedback (often given with positive intent in the beginning) is not acted upon (Dutch visualization of the “Sabotagelijn’ and here an English depiction). When you try to give feedback, and nobody reacts, we shift a little to the right on this line, i.e. we might make a joke about it. But for every time we feel we are not listened to, despite our (good) intentions, we get a little more disappointed and relatively benign jokes start to become sarcasm, we progress towards gossip, to active resistance and finally ‘war’ or ‘leaving’.

I can recognize the various stages of this ‘resistance line’ from my own experiences (of not being listened to) and seeing it happen all around me: if you work with a larger group (currently I am trying to tackle a whole new group of 80 disgruntled IT-people), people are all over the place on this line: some close to leaving, some in open state of war, some just very explicit (the shouters – thank god for those!) and the majority in different stages of (silent) resignation or even passive resistance (not reacting to anything but that which impacts them directly) – this last group is the most difficult to help.

Of course, going towards the left on this scale, needs more than just good listening skills. Often work has to be done on making sure feedback is formulated just well enough, so it has a chance of being understood and received constructively as well. This second part - learning to give feedback that lands well - is often the most difficult part in my experience. Too many times have I heard “Yes, but he/she needs to start listening to me!”, while a more constructive “what can I say, so I get understood better?” attitude, often creates faster and better results.

I feel that the most challenging is identifying where people are on this line and finding out what happened that they progressed (that far) to the right. Basically you have to take one step back to the left at a time, slowly increasing trust again (psychological safety) and using your listening skills all the way. Sociocratic methods help big time, especially the rounds, but other (NVC) methods work as well (think South-Africa just after apartheid). In my current situation, helping the 80 in need, my main approach is focusing on well-being, letting the steam out of the kettle by running sociocratic meetings (without saying so explicitly) and identifying small, but important, improvements. It’s going to be a long process, but already now, I can see that checking in and out, talking in rounds and making sure the reaction-rounds hold space for everyone’s voice (NO discussions!), creates relief (wow! I can say something without being interrupted!) and the first signs of hope for a better future. Just last week I sat with 12 hardcore IT-people with no sociocratic experience whatsoever, checking in as (whole) people and reacting with full-blown human emotions. I was very much impressed by them and contemplating that such simple meeting structures and tools can create so much good stuff…


Where’s the like button in this forum? :slight_smile:
I LOVE what you wrote, @egon.loke . The scale seems accurate and real to me as well, and I recognize the behaviors as well. I’d even add that they translate even to 1:1 relationships…
I’d love to hear the story of the 80 (new?) folks so maybe it’s time for an update here?

Along the lines of what you’re saying, it seems like my task in many groups that I’m helping out is just to calm things down and take the untethered feel away, like tying things to the ground more. It’s in particular hard - bordering at impossible - when groups ask for “more structure” without willingness to follow said structures or propose others - especially in places where I don’t have authority. Similar to what you said, what’s on my list for those groups is to identify easy small wins and build a foundation with those.


I was with my last employer for 15 years. While I had considerable freedom to do my job the way I wanted, there wasn’t much interest in getting my input for things that were a little beyond my job description. I think I could have offerced management more insight. I got a reasonable paycheck, and I kept quiet.

I’ve tried to attend a few online SoA seminars. But family life is too busy to adhere to schedules. Keep up the good work. I’ll keep poking around this website from time to time.

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Thanks Dave!
I almost wanna say i admire that you were able to keep quiet - not sure I can do that. My track record at keeping quiet to keep a system in place that isn’t working for me is not the best!