Coaching … the secret sauce!

CoachingAs we know, our relationships and success in our careers depend on a number of factors. It is universally accepted that one of the most important people skills is being able to communicate emphatically and effectively. If you are a team leader, one of your key responsibilities is to provide coaching as needed and that means offering effective feedback.

Why is effective feedback necessary? The short answer is that feedback is needed and desired because it lets a team member know how they are doing. They need to know if they are proceeding positively toward accomplishing their goals. Acknowledgement of the forward progress toward goal achievement is very encouraging and will encourage team members to repeat positive and productive behaviors. On the other hand, if a team member is making some mistakes, they have the opportunity to improve their performance.

Effective feedback is very specific and not general, such as saying nice job. The problem with this type of generality is that it does not identify exactly what the team member did well so that it can be repeated. By the same token, when you provide coaching for improvement, it should be timely and specific so the team member can make the correction in a timely manner.

Feedback should describe what was accomplished in precise and measurable terms.

For example:
• “You successfully revised the customer service software a week ahead of schedule.”
• “Your process improvement recommendations have shown a 10% cost reduction and we still have 10 days before the end of the month.”
• “This month’s results showed that you resolved delivery issues such that we are showing 12% above standard expectations.”

Feedback should be timely and as soon as possible after a benchmark event occurs. The reason is that the exact details and conditions will be fresh in your mind, which will make your comments precisely relevant to the task that the team member is performing at that time. An additional benefit to the team member is that the praise and acknowledge that you offer are sincere and you are impressed.

Let’s assume that almost no one is perfect and will need some feedback for improvement. So we should attempt to equalize our feedback with positive feedback and feedback for improvement or the achievement of higher performance goals. Human nature being what is, team members may tend to doubt your sincerity if your feedback is all positive.

When providing feedback for improvement, that too must be specific and timely.

For example: “Jim, you disappointed me this morning when XYZ company’s order was not shipped by noon as promised. This is not specific feedback and Jim will not know what to correct or not repeat.”

More helpful feedback might be:

“Jim, I have some feedback for you regarding the XYX Company’s order that did not make it out by noon today as we promised. I noticed that John, did not come in today. Realizing that you needed help with that order, the next time you have a similar problem, please let me know so we can temporarily put an additional person on the shipment. Does that make sense to you and will you do that in the future?”

Related Articles:   Coaching … how did I do?   and   When an Associate Struggles … COACH!

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Coaching, Professional Skills

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