The Three Sources of Coaching and Feedback
All of us want to improve at something at some time in our
life. And all of us find ourselves in the position to help
others improve. One of the tools that aids in this improvement
Author Ken Blanchard calls feedback the "breakfast of champions."
The truth is that giving feedback is one key to successful
coaching and being open to and receiving feedback is one of
the most important skills we can learn if we want to maximize
our productivity and success.
There are many useful techniques and guidelines for giving
and receiving feedback. Since feedback is such a central skill,
we need to understand more than just the "how to's" - we need
to go underneath the techniques, and behind the guidelines
and go to the source.
There are three sources of all coaching and feedback and one
factor will dictate how successful any of it will be, regardless
of the source. All the techniques and approaches we have read,
learned and used come from these three pieces of information.
When we understand feedback at its deepest roots, we can transcend
the techniques, using them as truths rather than as fill-in-the-blank
The Three Sources
All coaching or feedback - whether requested (and received)
or given (or offered) comes from one of or some combination
of these sources.
Expertise/Experience. Often we are in a position to
provide feedback or coaching to someone who isn't as expert
or experienced in something as we are. Because of our experience
and knowledge we are in a great position to give them wise
counsel. And when you want to learn something, one of the
things you will do is find an expert. When we can get coaching
from a true expert we will be open to what they have to say
because we value the information so dearly.
Relationship/Caring. Sometimes we provide coaching
just because we care about the other person. And often we
will seek out the perspectives, coaching and input of those
that we know care about us. A strong relationship can make
us more willing to give feedback, and that same strong relationship
will make us much more open to receiving it.
Power/Position. At work, this is the position we typically
think of coaching coming from. The position of power could
be the boss, supervisor or manager. It could also be the priest,
teacher, or parent. We have all received feedback from people
in a position of power. And when we find ourselves in this
position, we know that this is one of our jobs - to give coaching
to those that work for us or are in our care.
Obviously some coaching stems from a combination of these
factors. The stronger the connection to these sources, the
more interested we typically are in giving feedback. And the
more closely we see others in connection with one or more
of these sources, the more likely we are to seek out and listen
to the feedback they provide us.
The Master Key to Successful Feedback
If you want to be more successful in helping others succeed,
regardless of the source or sources of your coaching, you
need to clearly understand this master key.
If you want to take advantage of and be open to any coaching
or feedback you receive, you must understand this key as well.
The master key to successful feedback is intent.
Stated simply, when our intent is clear and pure; when we
really are giving feedback and coaching with the very best
for the other person in mind, it will be more successful.
And if our purposes are vindictive, punitive, meant to "fix"
someone, or come from our frustration or anger it will be
In other words, coaching shouldn't be about us, but about
the other person and their success.
Since we have all received much coaching and feedback in our
lives, we know this is true. When we sense that the feedback
we are receiving is valuable and comes from a perspective
of truly wanting us to improve, we are more open to hearing
and applying it.
How to Use This Knowledge
When you are in the role of coaching others, always get a
clear goal or intention in your mind, and make sure that in
your conversation you communicate this intent, both in your
words and your non-verbal behavior. Recognize too the sources
from which your feedback come. Help the other person see where
the feedback is coming from and why it is important to them,
as you see it.
When you start from this perspective, your coaching will be
much more successful than if you follow a model or prescription
perfectly. It won't matter if you muff up your words a little
bit. The techniques are useful, because they are rooted in
the sources. When you focus on a clear intent and a solid
foundation on the sources though, the techniques and approaches
will work much better.
If you are receiving feedback and truly want to improve, assume
the other person's intent is pure. Take the feedback as a
useful gift (even if it doesn't feel like it at the moment
- remember that not everyone understands this as well as you
do now.). If once you have received the feedback you determine
that the intent wasn't clear or at worse, was even counter
productive to your success, you can then decide what you will
do with the advice and counsel you received.
The next time you are a giver or receiver of feedback, think
of these sources and of the master key. When you use this
knowledge you will be much more successful on both sides of
any coaching conversation.
Kevin Eikenberry is the Chief Potential Officer of
The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com),
a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their
potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking
services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing
Your Potential go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/uypw/index.asp
or call 317-387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.
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