Learnership Management System

Feedback: The Essence of Coaching

Central to the coaching process is giving feedback. When done correctly, feedback is a valuable tool to help the learner/employee improve performance.

If done poorly, it can demotivate and, in some cases, destroy a person’s self-confidence.

There are two types of feedback: Evaluate and developmental.

Evaluative feedback focuses on the past and is designed to grade the learner/employee’s performance, such as in a formal performance-appraisal process.

Developmental feedback, on the other hand, focuses on the future and is designed to help the learner/employee raise performance or prepare for the next level of effort. For our purposes, we will limit our discussion to developmental feedback.

When giving feedback, concentrate on using “I-messages” instead of “you-messages.” I-messages are statements designed to give the receiver feedback about his or her behavior.

Using I-messages promotes dialogue because they reduce the other person’s defensiveness and resistance to communication. You-messages that blame, accuse, or attack the other person, cause him or her to respond emotionally and negatively.

The responsibility for keeping lines of communication open rests with the coach who delivers the message honestly and focuses on behaviour description, not evaluation.

A behaviour is something the learner/employee does that can be observed and measured, and that can be discussed objectively. On the other hand, a discussion dealing with attitude is a conclusion one makes about an observed behaviour.

Because an I-message communicates how the coach experiences the other person’s behaviour as well as the impact or consequences of that behaviour, the learner/employee is more likely to accept the coach’s comments as positive and constructive.

For example, when an learner/employee submits reports late and full of errors, the coach might be tempted to say, “You’re careless and irresponsible!”

A far more effective reaction would be, “I am annoyed when you submit reports after the deadline and with errors or inaccurate information because it prevents us from finishing this project on time.”