Coaches, 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.