The best piece of feedback I ever received

Last week I talked about performance management, and the need for real time feedback.  A commentator on the article said:

“.. really is so spot on with how important real-time feedback is for staff. If we are so readily and quickly able to move to real-time analytic & data feedback / results, surely we should be able to with our employees…”

I responded with an excerpt from Brene Brown “..A daring culture is a culture of honest, constructive and engaged feedback. This is true in organisations, schools and families. I know families struggle with this issue; however, I was shocked to see “lack of feedback” emerge as a primary concern in the interviews that focussed on work experiences. Today’s organisations are so metric-focussed in their evaluation of performance that giving, receiving and soliciting valuable feedback ironically has become rare. It’s even a rarity in schools where learning depends on feedback, which is infinitely more effective than grades scribbled on the top of a page or computer generated, standardised test scores…” Daring Greatly Pg 197

But it also reminded me of perhaps the best example of feedback I ever received. We were in the middle of a two day team session, and it had been a bit fraught until that point. Simmering tensions and unresolved issues were bubbling to the surface. At some point on the afternoon of the first day; the facilitator, a skilled coach in his own right asked “can I give you a 30 second coaching moment?” “Yes, of course” I replied. He then went onto to say “do you know that every time x speaks, you roll your eyes or make a face. You are a powerful influence within the group, and the impact of this is that people are looking at you for your reaction rather than listening to x. This is disrespectful and doesn’t honour your position within the group, nor x’s role and position. I know you have some ongoing issues, and I suggest here’s an interim way to resolve that so that you can listen to what x says neutrally.”

The AID coaching mechanism is well known (Action, Impact, Desired Behaviour/Change), but what was so powerful about this intervention was that it was immediate and it was specific.  Probably more importantly though – it was helpful and it was delivered with grace and confidence.

This one singular intervention, now many years old, taught me more about coaching, and more about the positive power of feedback (even negative feedback) delivered well than any other book, training course, article before or since.

Which made me think .. Feedback is really about having the courage of our convictions to deliver the message; rather than worry about how it will be received, what the person will think of us as a result, whether they will get upset.

Feedback is a gift. Truly.

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