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Feedback – An essential part of Executive Coaching

Most employees crave feedback. They want an honest assessment of their behaviour to help them improve their work. They know that if they listen to and take action on clear and constructive feedback, their overall performance will improve…and so will their job satisfaction. So, why do so many managers feel uncomfortable delivering feedback (especially) when it involves a problem or concern? I came across these top tips from Joel Garfinkle on how to avoid ‘drive-by’ feedback and achieve positive results.
1. Be positive: Focus on what the person is doing well and not just what they need to improve upon.
2. Focus on behaviour: When discussing a problem with performance, keep your emotions in check. Focus on the actions of the individual, not the person.
3. Be specific: Provide tangible examples of the behaviour in question, not vague, “drive by” criticism like: “I’ve been hearing complaints about your attitude”
4. Be timely: The closer feedback is tied to the behaviour in question (good or bad) the more powerful it will be so avoid waiting until the annual performance appraisal to provide positive or negative feedback.
5. Be clear on purpose for feedback: Often, feedback comes from judgment and we don’t want to pass it off as feedback. So, it’s important to pause and think about where the feedback is coming from and how can you deliver it in a way that will be received positively.
6. Avoid using judgment as a means for feedback: Don’t use feedback as a cover for you to share an actual judgment or be critical of another person. Judgment is just your opinion of a person’s character and isn’t neutral.
7. Provide feedback from a neutral place: Feedback is really a piece of information or observation you are sharing. Once a person receives the feedback from a neutral space, the person can decide to change or not.
8. Make it a two-way conversation: Take time to engage the employee and check for understanding. Focus on “partnership,” not “this is what you’re doing wrong” or “this is what you need to change.”
9. Follow up: If your feedback concerns a problem, look for opportunities to “catch them doing it right.” Reinforce positive behaviour.
10. Practice what you preach: Feedback can best be received when you have the authority, credibility and trust already established in the relationship. Without these three things, it makes it more difficult to both give and receive feedback.