The increased power of feedback

Jan 28 2013

The increased power of feedback when it’s seen as a two way process and delivered ‘in the moment’

Feedback is often variable, very patchy and at best, given with considerable discomfort on behalf of the giver and usually received with great discomfort by the receiver. So how do you give ‘great’ feedback and what does great feedback actually mean?

Annie Richardson, managing director at Quantum Corporate Coaching Ltd explains…

Great feedback is specific, in the moment, direct and succinct, open, honest and given with love. A dear friend once asked me, ‘Annie, do you care enough about me to give me feedback?’ – wow! Was that a head turner for me! And in that moment it gave me a completely different perspective on the purpose and intent behind feedback.

An important qualification for feedback is that it should always be directed at somebody’s behaviour and care must be taken to focus on what and how something has been done and avoid at all times focussing feedback at somebody’s level of identity. A very good qualification of this, which most people can relate to, is when a parent talks to their child and takes care to say, “that was a naughty thing to do” rather than “you are a naughty boy”.

The giving of feedback is very often where all the attention is focused. I’d also like to stress the importance of how you receive feedback. I believe that if we thank people for feedback and receive it graciously, this will do more to increase the frequency with which feedback is given.

It is because feedback is not generally well received that people tend to fear or shy away from giving feedback. Of course what you choose to do with the feedback once you have thanked somebody and accepted it is entirely up to you. I was once told a lovely little story about how to receive feedback; feedback is like the pair of socks, hand knitted jumper or scarf that your mother gives you at Christmas. You probably don’t want it however you accept it. This made me laugh and to this day I appreciate the time that somebody takes to give me feedback and graciously accept it whether it fits or not.

I would extend the analogy of the knitted jumper and ask you to recall the film “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” Here Colin Firth is regularly given a hand-knitted jumper for Christmas from his mother. The one in the film had a particularly larger than life reindeer knitted on the front with a great big red nose. Now Colin Firth in the film chose to wear the jumper, I maintain that it would be of course your choice as to whether you wear it or keep it in the bottom drawer.

Interestingly for me, I very often find that feedback which makes me want to confine it to the bottom drawer forever out of sight, very often is actually that feedback that I do most need to wear and really need to embrace. When I have the courage to do this I look back and see an exponential growth in my self development and awareness because I have taken the time to embrace something that may be uncomfortable and may tell me what I don’t want to hear, however it is what I already know. In fact, the desire with which I want to push the feedback away is usually directly related to the benefit that it will serve me.

Feedback is and should always be operated as a two way process. This skill alone if operated consistently and competently transforms both people and businesses, it really is a gift to both receive and give.

Quantum Corporate Coaching Ltd is a leading people development specialist, helping companies unlock the resources and hidden talents of their most valuable assets – their people. Quantum has helped coach senior leaders from such companies as Fujitsu, Barclays, BBC, Oxford Instruments and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. They provide one to one coaching in board executive and leadership coaching. Plus development programmes on leadership and management skills, where they’re always looking to maximise potential of individual and team performance.

  • “Annie is an exceptional coach, mentor and trainer/facilitator. Having attended one of her courses on coaching and mentoring I was fortunate and privileged to be able to join her as co-coach for further training and saw for myself the dedication and attention to detail she puts into her work. Her heightened sense of perception ensures that everything she does meets the needs of those around her. Annie is highly motivating and always shows an innate belief that each of us has the potential to achieve our goals, especially when we think we can't! She is professional and a role model for a "can do" attitude and continues to inspire me in my coaching.”

  • “Annie is the consumate professional. She provides measurable Executive Coaching interventions in a very personable style.”

    MD of Utilities Company
  • “Annie balances a professional approach with a warm and caring attitude, and this is evident in the workshops we have run together. She is fun to work with and focuses on generating great results for her clients.”

    Development Consultant
  • “Annie is an engaging, authentic and warm hearted workshop leader. She is the consummate professional in that she delivers to the brief, exceeds expectations and has boundless energy and enthusiasm that captures the attention and interest of the participants. As an executive coach, Annie truly connects with her clients and brings her wealth of knowledge and experience to the sessions which ensures clients leave feeling that they got great value and are able to achieve exceptional results.”

    HR Director IT Company
  • “I have worked with Annie as a client both professionally in my capacity of Learning and Development Director at Centrica and personally as a professional, personal to me on a coaching programme. Annie is empathetic, professional and a great coach, I would recommend her to any client or company.”

    Learning & Development Director, Centrica
  • “The coaching was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to grow in their professional environment.”

    Director at Open University
  • “The coach was very relaxed and could immediately empathise with any given situation, whilst being able to give constructive help. Annie very quickly grasped where my strengths and weaknesses lay and could gauge challenging situations very well – only an experienced coach can do this.”

    MD Financial Services
  • “Annie’s challenges enforced reflection on my thought processes and therefore my behaviour patterns. A very satisfying experience.”

    Director Open University
  • “Quantum have provided a very professional and friendly service. The requirements we have requested have been very specific and individual to our companies needs, and Quantum have gone out of their way to understand these requirements and organise and develop the training accordingly. Annie Richardson is always very professional and is also well received by all those who attend her courses. Quantum is a delight to work with and I would strongly recommend their services to anyone wishing to develop their company’s development initiatives further.”

    ICRH Group Leader, Culham Centre for Fusion Energy
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