Effective Coaching: Feedback is the Foundation of Effective Coaching
Effective Coaching: By Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
A manager that wishes to communicate effectively must receive and impart reliable and honest input by observing, questioning and opening up productive two-way dialogue. Feedback is a major part of the total communication process that requires presenting ideas, thoughts and messages clearly and distinctly.
Within the workplace, opportunities generally surface that make it easier and faster to obtain and gather information through an informal feedback process. Informal feedback consists of the information that is provided to one another during normal workplace communications. It can be as simple as a supervisor or coworker commenting on a procedural flaw or an incorrectly completed procedure. Employees often dispense positive informal feedback by telling other coworkers when they did something well. Through daily interactions and informal feedback, leaders and managers are able to effectively establish key interpersonal-relationship connections.
The Purpose of Feedback
Before offering feedback it is essential to know just why you need it and what you intend to do with it. Below are some questions you should answer before offering one of your employees or anyone else specific feedback.
- What is my reason or purpose for giving this feedback, and how do I intend to use it?
- What specific actions or behaviors do I need to reinforce, alter, modify or correct?
- What do I want to accomplish through this feedback and discussion session?
- What specific information do I need to find out or learn more about?
- What specific questions do I require answers to?
- What issues of timing, location, advance preparation, or other logistics do I need to consider?
The Problem with Feedback
For some individuals just the thought of receiving feedback from another person, especially a manager or supervisor, becomes a terrifying experience. This is because they typically expect the worst, not the best, when hearing something about themselves. In fact, some employees will automatically define feedback (especially “critical feedback”) as negatively opinionated. However the actual definition of critical feedback is “the art of evaluating or analyzing with knowledge and propriety with the intent of providing useful information for future decisions.” As such, it is generally far better to focus on the positive aspects of the feedback, and interject as little of the negative as possible, especially if changing another person’s attitude or behavior is at stake.
Another reason some individuals tend to resist critical feedback has to do with personal self-image. When individuals sense, feel or believe that someone sees them in a less-than-positive light, they may feel anywhere from uncomfortable to devastated.
People like to hear what is consistent with their own views and tend to ignore ideas that run counter to their belief structures and comfort levels. It takes an open mind to listen to an opposing view, which may include hearing that they may be doing something ineffectively or possess a skill deficiency.
The Qualities of Effective Feedback
Good, reliable and usable feedback tends to have several characteristics that make it highly beneficial and valuable. For any feedback to be effective, it should be:
- Descriptive rather than evaluative, which typically avoids generating levels of defensiveness
- Focused on describing and detailing one’s own reactions, which leaves the individual receiving it free to use it or not to use it as he or she chooses
- Quite specific rather than general
- Focused on behavior rather than the individual
- Focused on the needs of not only the receiver, but also the giver of the feedback, which is to help, not chastise or hurt
- Directed toward a specific behavior or something the receiver can do something about
- Asked for and not imposed on a person
The Use and Abuse of Feedback
Feedback is most useful when it is timely or immediate. This implies that it is wisest to offer it soon after a specific action or behavior warrants eliciting it. It is important to keep in mind that even effective feedback, if it is presented at an inappropriate time, may do more harm than good.
Feedback should be used for sharing of information, rather than for simply providing directions, opinions and advice. The main idea behind giving feedback is that it is intended to allow the receiver to personally decide its validity or usefulness, which is inherently based on whether or not it is in agreement or harmony with the person’s own goals and needs. Keep in mind that when anyone provides advice by informing another person what to do, that individual to some degree or another ends up taking away the other person’s freedom.
Effective feedback usage involves structuring the amount of information the receiver can use, rather than the amount the imparter would like to give. Overloading an individual with feedback works to reduce the possibility that he or she may be able to effectively use what is received. When givers of feedback continually impart more informative feedback than can be effectively used, they are more often than not satisfying some need of their own, rather than giving it in order to help the other person.
Effective feedback usage tends to be concerned with what is said and done, or how—not why. The “why” involves assumptions regarding motive or intent and this tends to alienate the person getting the feedback, while generating elements of resentment, suspicion, and distrust.
Excerpt; Coaching: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI, 2011) $ 18.95 USD
If you would like to learn more about effective feedback techniques, refer to Coaching: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.
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Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
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Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved
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