Great Feedback: get it right and build a Coaching Culture

June 05, 2010 at 1:26 PM

Evidence shows that giving praise where it is due is the most effective way for a team leader to encourage team members. So whenever someone has done a good job, make a comment to that effect – not just at appraisals, but as you pass by their desk, or meet in the corridor or by the coffee machine. And be specific: so not just ‘good job, Brian!’, but ‘good job, Brian – your report was concise and to the point and just what I needed to convince the CEO our plan was best’.

There are very few companies now without some mechanism for evaluating the performance of their people and, from our discussions with leading Executives and HR Directors, we know many find this hard to do, particularly where there are difficulties around performance and behaviour that need to be addressed. This means that the process is not as effective as it could be and may create more issues than solutions. Learning to give and receive feedback are skills that will enhance relationships in your Company and lead to better results all round. It is also the key to building a ‘coaching culture’ within your organisation.

We are concentrating here on ‘formal’ feedback during regular appraisals and other one-to-one personal development meetings, although feedback may of course be given, and should be given, as often as is required.

Giving feedback

What are the preconditions that should exist for a really helpful feedback session?

1. Create rapport

Giving and receiving feedback will be more effective when there is good rapport between the parties which encourages the expression of genuine views. Although establishing such rapport is dependent upon the relationship that already exists, and is therefore worth working at, it can be assisted greatly at the time by developing a skill in asking good, open questions, those that allow someone to think and talk openly without feeling under pressure

2. Accentuate the positive

The way to make appraisals and other feedback sessions effective is to concentrate as much the positive aspects of a person’s performance and behaviour as on the less helpful. Feedback will have impact if the receiver understands that its aim is to help them succeed, and succeed against particular criteria. Feedback should never be perceived as disapproval, criticism or a personal attack.

3. Highlight behavioural impact

Feedback sessions are especially helpful in explaining how others – colleagues, clients or suppliers – are impacted by a person’s behaviour and attitudes. This can be done via a 360º Programme or through a specialised Impact Network Evaluation and Support Programme .(Armed with this information, that person is empowered to improve their emotional intelligence and relationship skills. At Plus Partnership, we find many clients want to improve this aspect of their leadership or teamwork.

Giving feedback: the knowledge

1. The more immediate the feedback, the more helpful it will be.

2. Be descriptive rather than judgemental: accurate, simple, clear, vivid and specific.

3. Direct praise or criticism towards performance in behavioural terms, i.e. to what the person did rather than who they are.

4. Be supportive, not authoritarian or dogmatic – encourage participants to contribute their views.

5. Be fair and reasonable, supporting judgements with evidence from observations.

6. Be positive as well as negative.

7. Offer constructive criticism only for actions which can be changed, and are related to the assessment criteria.

8. Don’t compare the person’s behaviour with that of others.

9. Restrict feedback to what can be absorbed and understood at one time.

10. Do not apologise for your criticism when it is made in good faith and supported by evidence.

Receiving Feedback

If it’s hard to give feedback, it is often equally difficult to receive it positively. So how can you make sure you get the most out of an appraisal or other one-to-one session?

1. Prepare for your appraisal

Be clear what you want to get out of this meeting and this feedback. Be forearmed with questions about your performance and behaviour and your ambitions for your future career.

2. Make it a Learning experience

Whatever feedback you receive, positive or negative, or both, intend to build on your strengths, address difficult issues. Find a way to put yourself in a positive state of mind before the meeting

3. Expect a posiitve outcome

Go into the meeting with a determination to make the most of it and come away with an action plan to move you forward. This is not to say that we should always have to accept feedback or the manner in which it is given. We all have the right to give our views on a particular situation, and we can expect feedback to be given in a respectful and supportive manner.

And what’s more.....

1. Offer feedback on observed behaviour, not on perceived attitudes

2. Give information, not opinion.

3. Offer descriptions of what you saw and how you felt, rather than judgements.

4. Focus on behaviour than can be changed.

5. Choose the aspects which are most important, and limit yourself to these.

6. Keep the messages simple.

7. Ask questions rather than make statements.

8. Allow the receiver to reach his/her own conclusions.

9. Set the ground rules in advance.

10. Comment on things that an individual did well, as well as areas where they might improve.

11. The receiver must be empowered by the process.

12. Feelings of inadequacy or incompetence can lead to humiliation.

13. Be specific - give concrete examples.

14. Observe everyone’s personal limits.

15. Too much feedback can overload people.

16. Before starting, consider the potential value to the receiver - If there isn’t any then it may be best to reconsider giving it.

17. Clarity - be clear about what you want to say.

18. Be descriptive rather than evaluative.

Receiving feedback – the knowledge

1. Attend to the speaker and listen to the message.

2. Try not to react by becoming defensive or launching a counter-attack.

3. Avoid flippancy or attempt to change the subject.

4. Do not caricature the criticism by over-reacting.

5. Do not infer that the critic has some ulterior, hostile motive.

6. Convey to the other person that you understand the point of the criticism, and indicate a willingness to work together towards a solution or improvement.

7. Accept praise graciously - don’t deny it.

Open questions for giving and receiving feedback

1. To what extent does this ....?

2. Explain to me how ....?

3. Tell me about ....?

4. Describe to me how ....?

5. Can you tell me why ....?

6. To what do you attribute ....?

7. What importance does this have in relation to ....?

Coach: Edwina Biucchi

©2010 Plus Partnership Ltd



Tags: Coaching Feedback
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Please add a comment

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Clear, inofmrative, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?
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Thanks for sharing. Always good to find a real exeprt.
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