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CEOs Can’t Give Feedback Only to Their Direct Reports

by | Aug 24, 2015

In my latest article for Harvard Business Review I share a unique practice that helped us turnaround engagement at Campbell.


CEOs Can't Give Feedback Only to Their Direct ReportsI began my tenure as CEO of Campbell Soup Company in 2001 with the mandate to turn around an iconic but struggling consumer products company. Soon after, I asked Gallup to conduct an engagement survey of our leadership to assess the level of personal commitment employees felt toward the organization and its goals. It’s an important thing to measure because companies with higher rates of engagement have been shown to meaningfully outperform those with low engagement. The results of Gallup’s initial survey of Campbell were very poor, among the worst they’d ever seen in the Fortune 500.

At the time, our Global Leadership Team (the top 350 leaders) had an engagement ratio of 1.67:1, meaning that for every 1.67 people who were engaged in their work, 1 person was not. This amounted to 220 leaders doing the work of 350 leaders in the face of one of the company’s toughest moments in its 125 year history. Over the next decade, I made it my mission to champion superior engagement at Campbell—and when Gallup did the same engagement survey of our Global Leadership Team 10 years later, in 2010, the engagement ratio had skyrocketed to 77:1, among the best Gallup had ever seen in the Fortune 500.

How did we do it? There were countless contributing factors to our successful engagement story at Campbell. But one unique practice that made an important impact, and that I believe can make a significant impact in other organizations, was our commitment to management development conversations that we called One-Over-Ones. Read the full article at Harvard Business Review

Doug Conant is remarkable—and so is this work.
– Stephen M. R. Covey
Author of The Speed of Trust

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