Coaching is training or development wherein a person called a coach supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.
Coaching in the context of performance improvement or training requires that with every intervention, we should be specific regarding what was said or done and why it was or was not effective. If the feedback is positive, be sure that it is sincere. Sincere feedback will energize and encourage the person you are coaching. It also clarifies what actions to repeat, when and why it’s important to do so. It is difficult to argue with or resist specific feedback for improvement. When you specifically compare current performance to goals or specifications, a person can see what adjustments they need to make to succeed in the future.
When offering feedback for improvement, when appropriate, suggest alternative actions the person can take. By providing alternatives, you help the person know what to do with your feedback. You help him or her develop a plan to improve performance. Explain why the alternatives should lead to enhanced performance and you’ll encourage the person to carry out your suggestions.
Effective feedback must be provided on a timely basis while the details of the performance are fresh in everyone’s mind. You’ll both be able to discuss the situation effectively by relying on the current and relevant facts. The goal is to assist in obtaining the repetition of effective actions for continued success. Also, adjustments can be made before facing similar situations in the future.
It is also important to listen carefully to the feedback team members provide. This demonstrates that you trust and value other people’s ideas and suggestions. Focus more attention on understanding their perspectives and suggestions than on defending your actions or behavior.
When receiving feedback, ask for specific details, suggestions and clarification so you will know what to continue doing and what to change. Ask for clear examples of what you said or did and why it was or wasn’t effective. Clarify suggestions for improvement and why the alternatives would be more effective. Be sure to clarify any feedback you don’t understand.
Here are a couple of scripts to guide you when you are requesting or accepting feedback:
• Don’t ask, “Is this what you need?” This is not an open-ended question.
• Instead, ask, “How does this data compare to what you were looking for?” or “How could I have completed this job more efficiently?”
• Don’t say, “OK, I’ll keep that in mind.” This response seems insincere and lacks empathy.
• Instead, say, “I hear what you’re saying, Dave. I know I need to improve my follow-up. It’s causing frustration for you and your group.”
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