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Giving good feedback - accuracy is key

Coaching sessions often centre round a conversation but don’t be mistaken; coaching is not a counselling session. While some coaches are trained in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) or are qualified to use different psychometric profiling techniques, coaches are not counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists or any other kind of therapists.

When conducting a coaching session, you may feel like you are at times adopting the role of a counsellor, but there are some fundamental differences you need to remember. Counselling tends to be retrospective, examining what has happened in a person’s past that contributes to their behaviour today. Conversely, coaching is about looking forwards, exploring what a person can do to improve their performance in the future.

There’s a saying – ‘success never stands still’ – and while this is true, in order to improve performance, it’s critical to take stock of how far you’ve come and where you are today, to then be able to move forward in a constructive manner. This is why feedback is an integral part of a coaching session – it allows you discuss past performance with your client, evaluate strengths and weakness, then formulate a plan for improved performance into the future.

Building on our years of experience working in the people management and development field, we’ve put together our top five tips for sharing feedback during your coaching sessions.

Be prepared:

The coaching session is in your diary so now do your homework ahead of the meeting. Make sure you are familiar with your client and their business. What are their vision and values? What are their aims and objectives? How does the coachee’s role fit within the bigger picture to help achieve these goals? Look at the information and profile you’ve been given and think about development points to discuss.

Involve the coachee:

People respond better when they feel some kind of ownership of a situation and a coaching session is no different. It isn’t an opportunity to be talked at, rather it’s a chance to engage in a discussion, to collectively arrive at an agreed action plan to progress performance. With this in mind, go through the feedback points with the client during the session, rather than have the coachee read through the notes before the meeting. This way, the channels of communication are already open and the coachee feels engaged in the session.

Be respectful:

Remember, as a coach you’re trusted to share personal – and at times – sensitive information. You’re in a privileged position and so treat the coachee and the contents of the coaching session with care. At times, the feedback shared with a coachee is not always positive and you may need to manage some difficult conversations; it’s important to be respectful of not only the information you’re sharing but also to the coachee’s feelings towards the feedback.

End on a positive:

Some coaching sessions are a delight to deliver and so ending on a positive is not difficult to do. However, sometimes you may need to have a tricky talk. When this is the case, it’s imperative to turn the discussion into an action to end on a positive note. You want your coachee to leave the session feeling engaged, focused and motived to improve their performance, in turn contributing to your client’s company and helping to achieve the business aims and objectives.

Accuracy is key:

In order to ensure your coachee is set off on the right path towards performance improvement, it is important the feedback you’re sharing is accurate, so they know their starting point and can progress from here.

This is why 360 Degree Profiling and Feedback tools are invaluable for coaches. It affords coaches and their clients a snap shot in time of a person’s performance, with clear and reliable data gathered from a number of different sources such as peers, managers, customers and other stakeholders. Of course, these snap shots can then be repeated further down the line, meaning coaches have access to a new batch of accurate data to compare and contrast with previous 360 Degree Profiling and Feedback findings, allowing coachees to reflect on their development journey so far, before identifying other areas for improvement into the future.

At Aspire Development, we recently launched our own online 360 Degree Profiling & Feedback Tool for coaches to use without the need for accreditation. For more information click here.



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