Be a Coach, Not a CriticUnless they can highlight a problem, many book reviewers don’t feel like they have done their job. They operate under the assumption that being a critic means being critical. Many bosses operate the same way. They feel feedback is good only if it is critical or negative.
Adam Bryant suggests in The Corner Office, that we be a coach, not a critic. He writes, “Employees know if their boss is rooting for them to succeed, and they’re much more open to feedback if they sense the manager’s goal is to make them better. If you assume that most people want to get better, they want feedback and advice, that they want somebody to care about their future, then giving feedback becomes much easier.”
Unfortunately, most bosses have not established that fact with those they “serve.” They don’t deliver positive feedback on an ongoing basis and only take the time to say anything when they have some critical points to deliver. Feedback should not be thought of as an event. It should be ongoing and in real-time. Sure that’s more difficult and time-consuming, but it is what you signed up for.
Bryant shares what Tachi Yamada of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program had to say about feedback: “One of the things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how many good things you say, the one bad thing is what sticks….Everybody has their good points. Everybody has their bad points. If you can bring out the best in everybody, then you can have a great organization. If you bring out the worst in everybody, you’re going to have a bad organization.” What are you bringing out?
David Novak of Yum Brands adds, “When you start out by talking to people about what they’re doing well, that makes them very receptive for feedback because at least you’re giving them credit for what they’ve done. Then I say, ‘And you can be even more effective if you do this.’ I think that really works.”
When it comes to feedback, packaging is everything.
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