Does the phrase “coachable moment” fill you with dread? Too often the coaching interaction between a manager and an employee has the ability to invoke fear but it doesn’t have to. With a bit of understanding from those giving and receiving critique, it can be less stressful and embraced as a vehicle for growth and change.
Giving and Receiving Feedback
While most of us are okay with not being perfect, it’s still hard to receive feedback. This is particularly true in the work environment where doing things right or wrong can have a direct effect on promotions and future earning potential. Likewise, if you’re on the receiving end of the feedback, it can be easy to forget what it’s like for the person giving the feedback.
The Power of Fear
Maybe you’ve heard of the acronym FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real)? Receiving and giving feedback plays often into fear. Before having a conversation, how many times do we play a scenario over and over in our minds wondering how the other person will receive the information? Too often our mind chooses to stick on the worst scenario, one that’s high on the scale of discomfort. Playing this scene over in our minds then makes the message even harder to give.
Staying Open to Coaching
Having an awareness of the discomfort felt by both parties can be a way to build empathy for the process, according to an article in the Harvard Business Review. The author states that by understanding the stress invoked for both parties and remaining open, coaching can be a way to receive feedback and achieve the growth necessary to advance one’s career.
Tips for Successful Feedback
- Ask for it – Don’t expect a superior to be a mind reader when it comes to the perfect moment for feedback. There probably isn’t one. Instead, indicate when you would like to receive feedback, yet remember that just because it’s a good time for you, doesn’t mean it will always happen that way.
- Show appreciation – Giving and receiving go hand-in-hand. Remember that as hard as it is to hear difficult information, it’s also hard for the person to give information that could be disappointing or hurtful. Acknowledging this position can create understanding for the bravery it takes both to give and receive the feedback.
- Don’t make it personal – It’s a fact of life that sometimes we say things we don’t mean, particularly in the heat of the moment. Work and life pressures have a way of stressing everyone out, creating the potential for a less-than stellar delivery. Sometimes it’s more important to distill the meaning from the tone and ask for clarification at a more-opportune moment.
- Show action when appropriate – An important part of the coaching dynamic is the ability to apply the lessons and build on them. Having the same points brought up over and over is a source of frustration to both parties and can create a breakdown in communication if there’s the perception one party is not participating. When in doubt, ask for clarification and try again.
Striving for Open Communication
Good and bad days, shifting work priorities, and changing personnel are challenging within any workplace. By striving to keep the lines of communication open for the giver and the receiver of the message, there’s a greater ability to get the message across right the first time. When in doubt, remember how you want to receive communication and strive to make it clear through words and actions.