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3 Keys to Effective Feedback: Observations, Perspectives, and Pathways

Angela MacDonald Jan 15, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Effective FeedbackFeedback is a key component of a successful coaching program. Without it, you can’t effect positive change. If you’re not paying attention to the three key elements of feedback, though, you might be wasting your breath.

Those three key elements are observations, perspectives and pathways. 

Observations

In my years of experience with coaching, I have always found that observation is an incredibly effective tool in assisting someone with their personal growth. It is through observation that we can access greater awareness both about our self and others. When we learn about how others see us we are able to adapt and grow.

As a coach or manager you can provide observations about what you see and experience about your employees, helping them develop self-awareness and understand the impact they are having on others, and even themselves. These are observations about specific behaviors and only observations – not judgments.

We encourage our clients to make use of the McQuaig Self-Development Assessment, which provides insights into a person’s natural style and motivations, areas of strength and areas for potential development. It can be incredibly useful when providing feedback about an employee's performance. The report is designed to create greater self-awareness and can be used by the employee to better understand them self and to encourage them to share what their own observations are, both of themselves and their colleagues.

Perspective

Sharing observations tells your employees what you see, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle when delivering effective feedback. Along with observation, they also need perspective. This is about replaying back the impact of their actions, or inactions. This creates for your employee an understanding of how their behaviors affect those around them, and therefore the workplace.

Often understanding the impact you are having on others can be an eye-opening experience.

Pathways

Have you ever given someone some feedback only to find out that they completely ignored you? Or worse. Think back to that instance. Did you offer an observation of what you saw without judgment? Did you include your perspective of the impact they had?

If so, you may have been missing the third key ingredient of our recipe. Your perspective is one point of view. It can mean something, nothing or everything to the person you share it with. How they receive it is partly based on whether or not you have a foundation of trust and mutual respect; whether or not you have an open pathway to successful observations and perspectives.

In order to have an open pathway, a few essential factors need to be in place:  

  •          A strong foundation of trust
  •          Mutual respect
  •          Openness for sharing
  •          Permission to provide the observations and perspectives
  •          Sense of safety
  •          Genuine care for the other person

In my experience in coaching, and even interacting with others, I have found it works to ask the other person permission to share your observation or perspective. If they agree, it opens the lines of communication and if they say no, it gives you a chance to arrange to have the conversation when they are ready. If you offer your feedback when they aren’t open to it, you’ll just be frustrating both of you.

Awareness of observation, perspective and pathways when you are coaching your employees can have a huge impact on the outcomes. Take the time to get them right and see the difference you can make.

This strategy is just one of the tools you should have in your coaching toolbox. Read this to learn the others.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Coaching and Development