The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.

William James

In the light of many organisations doing away with annual appraisals and performance reviews, managers clearly benefit by developing coaching skills, but what about feedback?

Managers and leaders are increasingly replacing performance appraisals and performance management with a more strengths based approach as these methods haven’t been efficient and adequate enough in our volatile and uncertain world.

Coaching skills now form a vital component of the people management toolkit. Integral to coaching is to include the art of creating a feedback-rich environment to create and sustain high performance but also as part of a cultural change strategy. After all, coaching is the art of empowering people to improve their effectiveness in a way which they feel helped. Hence, coaching is very much about providing helpful feedback so that people can grow and develop.

The key characteristics of a feedback rich environment :

  • Mutual accountability
  • Willingness to learn
  • No fear, instead psychological safety
  • No surprises
  • Truthfulness
  • Self-responsible language
  • Coaching

Effective performance feedback is delivered on an ongoing basis and is not saved up for end of year performance appraisals. If feedback is included as part of the coaching conversation at the beginning of the year and supported throughout the year, then at the end of the year it is just another coaching conversation rather than an anxiety fuelled difficult conversation for the manager and employee.

  1. Establish an emotionally safe environment
    • It is important to be in tune with how comfortable your coachee is with giving and receiving feedback – this comes with practice and confidence building of skills. Both managers and employees need to build capability to give and receive it well.
  2. Explore costs and benefits
    • There is often much fear about giving feedback, positive or perceived negative feedback therefore its important to be clear about the intention behind giving the feedback. If the intention is genuinely for the coachees growth and development, then consider the cost of not giving feedback.
  3. Model receiving feedback
    • Hold the mindset of receiving feedback as a gift. Hold yourself open for the learning opportunities provided by feedback. Ask them for what you want feedback on, then ask for specific, clear examples to help you understand the impact of your actions.
  4. Model giving feedback
    • Use the coach approach with giving feedback by asking what they would like feedback on and offer feedback on what you have notice and observed during the coaching. It takes continual ongoing communication to eliminate the surprises that derail individual performance, therefore its important to give feedback on progress and obstacles to achieving goals.
  5. Identify everyday situations
    • Work with coachees to identify everyday situation where they can give positive feedback to their colleagues. Encourage opportunities daily for genuine positive feedback as positive reinforcement rather than corrective criticism.
  6. Don’t serve sandwich feedback
    • You can see it coming … the ‘feedback sandwich’ – first given a positive (the bread), followed by corrective feedback or criticism (the filling), and finally some more praise (more bread). It results in confusion on both sides and worse still is that it devalues any praise that maybe given, as well as setting up distrust in the conversation.
  7. Coach as a sounding board
    • Our role as a sounding board is invaluable for managers to practise giving feedback to their colleagues. Simply getting the words out of someone’s head and spoken aloud helps to build confidence in giving feedback and helps them to develop their own unique style in doing so.

“Constructive Criticism” is a scam run by people who want to beat you up. And they want you to believe that they are doing it for your own good.

CheriHuber, There is Nothing Wrong With You