Observing & Feedback – Keys to Good Executive Coaching

Good feedback is factual, as close to the event as possible, specific so that coachee knows what you are referring to.
It comprises of three parts, namely, observing, stating what effect it had on you or perceived on others and suggestions for change if required.

Stating what was observed and the effect or likely effect on others raises awareness.

This then should be followed by suggesting what the coachee should continue doing or doing differently.

It is important not to overwhelm the coachee with too much feedback and therefore you should prioritise 2 or 3 points to focus on.

Feedback may be difficult both for the coach to give and the coachee to receive. Therefore the coach needs to be gentle on the person but nonetheless firm and candid in respect of the feedback as otherwise the coach is doing the person a disservice.

As well as observing a coachees behaviour and giving feeback on same, a coach may also observe from what they say e.g. how a coachee describes something or their belief in something. The coach may describe the same situation in their own words and in doing so they are getting the coachee to rethink and see the event in a different way.

Of course the coach’s approach is present possible alternative viewpoints rather than the right perspective.

A technique for generating alternative perspectives with the coachee is to generalise from the specifics for coachees who are very detailed and specific. On the other hand the coach may be specific with coachees who tend to generalise.

Another effective way to observe clients is to synthesise your observations in a way that may create a totally new picture for them.

Ideally you do this in a way that illuminates the client’s needs and leaves a strong impression on them. For example if the coach’s conversation with the coachee reveals that the person is heartless, the coach could synthesise this into a single perspective that the person is like an “iron man”.

If the coach observes through conversation that the person is constantly thinking of others instead of herself, then this could be synthesised into a startling image likened to a martyr such as Joan of Arc. The images should not be insulting but rather be accurate and be provocative.

Source: Terry Bacon, Laurie Voss. (2012). Adaptive Coaching. Nicholas Brealey International, London

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