Feedback is a dialogue, not a judgment

As a leader, it’s not always easy to have constructive conversations with employees. In fact, some leaders dread addressing negative behaviors, or on the other hand, they are stingy about offering positive reinforcement.

So, let’s see what Leaders who coach do when it comes to providing helpful feedback. Primarily, they engage with colleagues on a regular basis. That means, throughout the year they are continuously exchanging ideas with the people they supervise, their peers, and the company’s clients, regarding the quality of the products and services.

Moreover, giving and receiving feedback is ingrained in their leadership style and, by extension, the company culture. Also, they provide positive feedback often – to the people that they supervise, and to their peers – because it’s a form of recognition that motivates and validates people. This also makes it easier to deliver constructive criticism when necessary.

When giving constructive feedback, leaders who coach engage in a conversation.  They give a factual observation of something that may have gone wrong, and they ask coaching questions that encourage their colleague to express themselves as a means to better understand their perspective. So, they might ask: How do you see this? What do you think happened? What is your perspective on this?

Then, they will encourage people to create an action plan to improve the situation. So, the next questions may be:  How could you do it differently next time? Which improvements do you think are possible? What is the next step?

Feedback is a dialogue between humans, it’s not a sentence, it’s not a judgement. Most people want to do their work well and are willing to improve when their dignity is preserved.  Leaders who use coaching skills are able to recognize and reward good performance, and when necessary, they know how to create the right conditions for people to engage in improving their performance.

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