Posts Taged feedback

All Feedback Is Valuable

Feedback is the lifeblood of adaptation.  You don’t know how well you are doing without feedback.  You also don’t know if you are really blowing it without feedback.  Last week, the article on Three Types of Coaching Feedback was about the value of feedback to coaches.  The value of feedback goes beyond the items in that article.  A broader life value to feedback is also worth recognizing.

Generally, we grow up thinking about feedback as being either positive or negative.  Positive feedback reinforces; we like positive reinforcement and want to do the same things again.  Negative feedback tries to extinguish activities.  Who likes negative feedback?  What happens is that we start to avoid feedback because we might hear some really negative stuff.  Our mental category for negative feedback makes us want to run away from it all.

Another alternative is to think of feedback as either positive or constructive. I was having a conversation last week with another coach about feedback.  She liked those categories because they either lead us to keep on going or to change our activities to a more positive vein.  In my mind, constructive is just another word for negative.

The most helpful classification of feedback is to call it either off-course or on-course.  Here’s two reasons why:

  • On-course or off-course distinctions remove the positive and negative connotations entirely. It objectifies the feedback rather than making it emotional laden.
  • On-course and off-course distinctions both set a path for your future.  Think of it this way.  You are driving in a strange city and think you are lost.  So you pull over and ask pedestrian for directions.  You don’t care if he says you need to go straight for two blocks or whether he says to take the next right and go two blocks.  You are getting directions in either case.

When you start to think about all feedback as a way to chart your course, then the feedback becomes a welcome part of your life.  The challenge to you is simple:  the next time someone offers you feedback, frame it as directions rather than positive or negative.  I guarantee that you will pay more attention.

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Three Types of Coaching Feedback

Positive FeedbackCoaches, especially new coaches, view feedback as a mixed blessing. They know it’s a key element for improvement but they fear being crushed by what clients have to say. Here are three ways to solicit feedback that are easier to take.

External feedback around the client informs you. When the client reports that people around him are noticing a difference, that’s telling you something as well. Performance reports, 360 surveys, and requests for coaching from your client’s colleagues all provide insights. Admittedly, these types of feedback are indirect indicators.  While they may not be directed towards your improvement, they have a high degree of credibility and truth.

External feedback from the client is invaluable.  The hardest part for new coaches is sitting in fearful anticipation about what will be given as feedback.  The problem is not the feedback; it’s the anticipation of feedback.  One thing that Ultimate Coach University student coaches have found is that written feedback carries less fear.  You are not hearing from the lips of your client; it’s not a knee jerk reaction. Instead, written feedback is designed to be more tactful and that makes it easier to take. Develop a quick one page email form that can be sent to your clients a few times during the coaching.  You’ll be glad for the insights it provides.

Internal feedback to you is integral to improvement. Unless you’ve stopped growing as a coach, you need to ask yourself some important questions.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • Did my client fully understand what he/she needs to change, improve, or continue doing?
  • Did my client understand why he/she needs to change, improve, or continue what he/she is doing?
  • Does my client have a sense of ownership for the plan and results?
  • Did I listen effectively?
  • Do I have a plan for reinforcing or following up on the coaching?

While you can talk harshly to yourself, you are more likely to find valuable answers to these questions that you will implement immediately.

Nothing can remove all of the fear surrounding feedback.  Once you start to become comfortable with your process, then the fear starts to dissipate.

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Creating Positive Results

I don’t think we realize how powerful we are in creating our environment.  As a coach, I often have to support my client’s in raising their awareness about the role that they play in their surroundings.  I recently came across some interesting research on this.  Ironically, one article was about how we can create a unproductive environment and the other was about how we have the power to create a positive environment.

Nathaneal Fast and Larissa Tiedens wrote an article for the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2010 on “Blame Contagion.” We want to maintain a positive self-image so, when confronted by a threat to our image, we lay the blame off on other people or circumstances.  Let’s face it: the vast majority of us are above average, take responsibility for our successes, and put the cause for failures on our situation.  Fast and Tierdens look deeper than that:

  • When people blame others, we learn less and perform worse.
  • When we see others laying blame, we are more likely to do so as well.
  • We develop a goal of protecting our self-image.  In one sense, when we lay blame, we increase the likelihood that we will do it again in the future.

Fast and Tierdens do find hope through one of their experiments.  When we engage in self-affirmations  our need to protect our self-image decreases.  Self-affirmations are a shield against hits to our self- concept.

The flip side of blame contagion is what Shawn Anchor describes as The Happiness Effect.  It really is the flip side.  He looks at research on positive psychology that covers over 200 experiments and 275,000 people.  As he says, “Data abounds showing that happy workers have higher levels of productivity, produce higher sales, perform better in leadership positions, and receive higher performance ratings and higher pay. They also enjoy more job security and are less likely to take sick days, to quit, or to become burned out.”

One of the easiest ways to produce a happy work environment is through positive praise.  For all practical purposes, that’s the same activity as the cure for blame contagion.  To prove the point, Anchor cites the work of Marcial Losada, “Based on Losada’s extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful. This means that it takes about three positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects of one negative. Dip below this tipping point, now known as the Losada Line, and workplace performance quickly suffers. Rise above it—ideally, the research shows, to a ratio of 6 to 1—and teams produce their very best work.”

I am fascinated to discover that solution to increasing positive results is the same whether the research is on negative or positive environments. Positive praise and positive self-talk will increase productivity.

What do you think?  How will this affect what you do as a coach or a leader?

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Determining a Return on Investment for Coaching

Return on InvestmentDetermining a coaching return-on-investment is a difficult process. As coaches, we are stepping into a complex personal and/or business environment and sorting out the investment return is very complex. As coaches, we want to be able to tell our prospective clients that it’s worth their time, energy, and money to invest in coaching.

As coaches, we can’t speak for an industry wide ROI.  However, we can certainly provide some information about our individual coaching for prospective clients.  Here are three suggestions:

Ask your clients for satisfaction and knowledge surveys.  Find or devise some surveys that can be used for a pre-coaching and post-coaching comparison.  When you do enough of these, the comparison figures start to become meaningful.  For example, ask your clients to rate their proficiency on several scales such as:

  • I set weekly performance goals.
  • I set a schedule and stick to it.
  • I recognize when my business and personal life are imbalanced.

Perform a 360 survey.  Most executive coaching involves a formal or informal 360 survey.  Set up the coaching encounter so you can perform one both before and after the coaching.  This will tgive you some indications of the leaders improvement over time.

Evaluate performance changes.  Most of my coaching is done in the direct sales profession.  When I work with a company, we often try to establish key performance indicators for a pre and post comparison.  Usually the company can perform a similar comparison on the people who don’t receive the coaching.  Thus, you can compare the changes of those people who receive coaching with those who have not.  One word of caution:  often the people who receive coaching are a self-selected and highly motivated group.  They might have outperformed the other group even without the coaching.

While we may not be able to produce laboratory certified results, our efforts to evaluate the ROI of our coaching will provide us with some evidence and insights.  Wouldn’t that be better than not even trying?  In addition, we may allow ourselves to receive some intuitive hits on ROI just ebecause of our heightened awareness and interests.  The process of studying your coaching may provide you with valuable feedback that you can’t get any other way.

What are you doing to evaluate your coaching work?  I’d love the opportunity to compare notes.

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Find the greatest research about Leadership and how become one of Them.

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Find the greatest research about Leadership and how become one of Them.

  • Check our newest post about Leadership
  • Great inspiration to succeed as a Leader
  • Tips, Tricks and much more about Leadership
  • How to Discover the Leader within you