What is feedback?
Feedback is an integral part of coaching. It is the coach’s response to the coachee’s performance. Through feedback you will either encourage or discourage them, and make them aware of their achievements and setbacks. As a coach, you will be constantly providing feedback, whether you are aware of it or not. Sometimes you will do so directly;at other times it will be indirect.
Feedback can be given in any number of ways, such as:
- body language, e.g. nodding, facial expressions, smiling, frowning
- brief comments, e.g. 'yes', 'no', 'try again'
- self-reflecting questions, e.g. 'How do you think you’re going?', 'How do you feel?'
- guiding comments, e.g. 'You are doing really well but maybe you could …'
- test or assessment results.
Feedback can be broadly categorised into four types:
- When no response or feedback is offered, the silence has the effect of maintaining the current state or conditions - unless the coachee is expecting positive feedback. In such cases, when they are greeted with silence instead, it can reduce their confidence and performance.
- Negative feedback is critical and often judgemental. It should identify behaviours that were inappropriate or not up to standard but all to often it includes the person as well as their behaviour. This automatically puts the coachee on the defensive and instead of looking at ways of changing, they will make excuses or blame others.
- Positive feedback can be general praise designed to encourage and motivate the coachee or it can be specific and used to reinforce a desired behaviour. The more specific feedback is, the more the coachee will gain from it. For example, the remark, “Good work,” is encouraging, whereas feedback such as, “The diagrams you included in the report made the information very easy to understand,” provides them with the information they need to continue the good work.
- In a coaching relationship, advice should identify desirable behaviours and then provide suggestions for further improvement.