In today’s work environment, managers are increasingly asked to be more coach-like when working with their direct reports. This includes coaching for performance, coaching for development, and coaching to build skills. But one important coaching skill has proven to be a big challenge for most leaders—providing sensitive feedback to team members.
Managers often find delivering less than positive feedback to be difficult because they are worried that negative feedback may de-motivate people, damage a relationship, or will not generate the desired results.
Guidelines for Giving Feedback
Madeleine Homan Blanchard, co-founder of Blanchard Coaching Services recently outlined seven best practices in a January 24 post for well-intentioned managers facing this task. For manager’s looking to improve their ability to deliver sensitive feedback successfully, Blanchard recommends:
- Before giving feedback, be sure clear agreements have been established about goals, norms, roles, and expectations.
- Make sure the relationship has sufficient trust. Ask the direct report for permission to give feedback, or at least prepare them if you need to share something that might be delicate or hard to hear.
- Use a neutral demeanor to eliminate blame and judgment. Be aware of your nonverbal communication and tone. If this is a challenge for you, practice using neutral language.
- Be timely and give feedback immediately or as quickly as possible, but not in the heat of the moment. If you can’t control your emotions, wait until you can before giving feedback.
- Be relevant. Feedback needs to be focused on moving forward—not about something in past that will never happen again. Giving feedback about past events that are unlikely to recur serves no purpose and can damage trust.
- Focus on behaviors that are within the employee’s control. Beating people up for things outside of their control is unreasonable.
- Be specific and descriptive. Describe the behaviors or data rather than giving generalizations.
Giving feedback is a critical job responsibility of any manager. With some practice and preparation sensitive feedback can be delivered successfully. And the good news is that the more thoughtful you are with feedback, the less of it you’ll have to give!
About Coaching Tuesday
Coaching Tuesday is a weekly feature at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have coached over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services.