Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Power of Good Feedback

In the late 80’s, I started teaching people about feedback. It was an important skill in learning how to be a good leader. Given the response and interest, this subject became a routine part of my work for many years.

Recently, when reading another book, I became aware of the following book: Stone, Douglas. and Sheila Heen. Thanks For The Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Penguin Books, 2014. I was intrigued if this new book was going to be helpful in educating leaders. After the first chapter of Thanks for the Feedback, I realized that I had stumbled upon a master class in communication and feedback. Very well written and extremely practical, the book outlined many key concepts that I found most helpful in my work as a consultant and an executive coach.

As the authors explain in the introduction, “When we give feedback, we notice that the receiver isn’t good at receiving it. When we receive feedback, we notice that the giver isn’t good at giving it.” The key player from the authors’ perspective is the receiver, not the giver. As they continue, “Receiving feedback sits at the intersection of these two needs - our drive to learn and our longing for acceptance…. Receiving feedback well doesn’t mean you always have to take the feedback.” 

Stone and Heen point out there are three different kinds of feedback, each with a different purpose. They are as follows:

- Appreciation which motivates and encourages.

- Coaching which helps increase knowledge, skill, capability, growth, or raises feelings in the relationship.

- Evaluation which tells you where you stand, aligns expectations, and informs decision making

As they note, we need all three, but often talk at cross-purposes because we are not sure which kind of feedback we are giving and which kind we are receiving. Overall, I was impressed with this book because it not only helped me in understanding how to receive feedback but also how to give it. 

Given all of the reading I have been doing this summer, I have found this to be an excellent resource for people in leadership positions. It will help you in your work and it will help you when you are coaching others. So, when you have the time, add this one to your reading list and enjoy participating in a master class on communication and feedback.

Geery Howe, M.A. Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change Morning Star Associates 319 - 643 - 2257

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