Giving feedback is one of the key coaching skills that separates the average coach from the outstanding coach. When feedback is skilfully integrated into the coaching process it adds a level of immediacy and edge to coaching conversations that often brings breakthrough results.
Feedback though is frequently seen to be about helping people identify blind spots and to take action on things that need developing. Since these conversations can raise tricky emotions and sometimes lead to defensive reactions we think carefully about how we do this. It seems though that we ‘underdo’ how we go about giving positive feedback. Since this is often a more pleasant, easier task we don’t put as much time and planning into how we do it. As a result we ‘under-leverage’ positive feedback. With some thought and planning our positive feedback can have greater impact.
Here are some higher leverage ways to deliver positive feedback...
Deliver it – don’t just think about it!It is not uncommon to have thoughts about the good and effective work that our team members do. Too often though this is all that happens! We acknowledge to ourselves the good work that a team member has done but it does not always get expressed. Clearly this has no impact at all. So if you think it, translate that into a note or comment so that people know what you are thinking!
Be Direct: Deliver your positive feedback directly to the person. This especially applies when in a group context when praise can often be delivered in the 3rd person. It has much less impact this way
Be Specific: When positive feedback is specific people are clear about the action or behaviour that is being praised and its impact on the other person, team or organisation. As a result it is more likely to great repeated.
Make it Timely: Feedback loses some punch when it is separated from the action that is being acknowledged so give positive feedback as close to the event as possible.
Be Non Attributive: Our positive feedback has greater impact when we make it about how we have specifically experienced the person and their action. “I appreciated the extra time you took to support the new member of the team. It really helped me out”, works better than an attributive comment, “I appreciate what a generous person you are!”Attributing the generalised quality ‘generosity’ weakens the impact and even allows the person to more easily discount the comment since she may not see herself as being all that generous.
Mix it up to Suit the Person and the Occasion: There a number of ways in which positive feedback can be delivered. In the Business Coaching Toolkit* the authors suggest that positive feedback can be given in a number of mediums and contexts... It can be spoken or written, public or private, expected or unexpected. Some of these will work better with some people and in some contexts. Think about what suits the person and the occasion and add some variety to how you do this.
It can sometimes be tempting to think that positive feedback is not that necessary. Why should people receive positive praise for just doing their jobs? Well maybe. When we are regular givers of positive feedback it means that when people hear the comment... “I’d like to give you some feedback!” they will not automatically be assuming that it is going to be about something that is wrong! And we now know that the positive emotions that flow from authentic, positive feedback are not just warm feelings – they actually serve to help us be more creative, productive and resilient. That’s something worth shooting for!
Have a good coaching month!
Monday, May 24, 2010
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