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Feedback Skills Articles

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These feedback skills activities and exercises will help participants become more proficient in giving feedback, whether it be positive or negative, more effectively.

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360 Degree Feedback

About this Article:
Carol Wilson identifies the tools and models frequently used during coaching projects. In this article she looks at 360 degree feedback.

About

About this Article:
Carol Wilson identifies the tools and models frequently used during coaching projects. In this article she looks at 360 degree feedback.

Opening Words:
360 degree feedback is a process used by many organisations today to provide managers with information about how they are viewed by the different categories of people they come into contact with in the course of their work, for example, the managers they report to, the staff who report to them, and their colleagues, customers and clients.

The feedback is usually delivered anonymously and participants are asked to fill in a series of tick-boxes (often on-line) and to provide individual comments about various aspects of the subject’s performance, typically around their skills, abilities, attitudes and behaviours.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who is thinking of using 360 degree feedback or upward appraisal mechanisms for their own or others' development.

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Active Listening

About this Article:
In this article Tony Atherton explains why good listening is such hard work and discusses the characteristics and techniques used in Active Listening.

About

About this Article:
In this article Tony Atherton explains why good listening is such hard work and discusses the characteristics and techniques used in Active Listening.

Opening Words:
Good listening is hard work! Very often when we listen to someone we only half pay attention; talking is much more fun than listening so we start thinking about what we will say when it’s our turn. What we want is a conversation where we put in at least half of what is said, if not more. We are not looking for hard work.

The phrase active listening has crept into management jargon. It is a good phrase though because good listening is not the passive action it is sometimes thought to be. Good listening requires active participation by the listener.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who needs to listen. Especially useful for those in a coaching or sales role.

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Coaching Feedback for Managers

Article Overview:
In this article, Carol Wilson looks at four key areas of feedback: Positive feedback, negative feedback, receiving feedback and coaching feedback.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Carol Wilson looks at four key areas of feedback: Positive feedback, negative feedback, receiving feedback and coaching feedback.

Opening Words:
Feedback is often regarded as the most difficult part of a manager’s job. However, in a coaching culture, negative feedback is experienced in a positive way; as an opportunity for making new discoveries rather than blame.

Positive feedback is an energy raiser for the giver as well as the receiver. However, it must be authentic and genuine or it will be dismissed as worthless.

People often say that they only hear feedback when something is wrong. However, it costs nothing to tell people when they have done well, or give a simple thank you. Both will make the recipient feel more valuable and raise their confidence. Self-belief is vital for success, and praise, when it is deserved, builds confidence and motivation to achieve more.

It is great to give positive feedback in public; it gives people a real boost to be singled out and admired for what they have achieved. There are also two possible areas for caution here:

Useful Reading For:
Managers, including first time managers, and anyone who wants to develop their ability to give, or receive, constructive feedback.

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Coaching for Excellent Performance

Article Overview:
In this article, Graham Guest looks at the importance of coaching as a holistic method of managing performance. He explains the role of the coach and the coaching relationship.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Graham Guest looks at the importance of coaching as a holistic method of managing performance. He explains the role of the coach and the coaching relationship.

Opening Words:
Many businesses proclaim that their people are their greatest asset. This is an attractive idea, particularly to the assets themselves. Some of the businesses making this statement actually believe it. Of those that believe it some will try to put the philosophy into practice.

This might seem like a cynical opening to an article, but it is true that if we observe businesses closely we see that manipulation and control are still the favoured tools of management. Kofman and Senge (1995) ask, 'Why do we confront learning opportunities with fear rather than wonder? [...] Why do we create controlling bureaucracies when we attempt to form visionary enterprises?' They suggest that the main dysfunctions in our institutions - fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness - are actually by-products of our success over thousands of years in conquering the physical world and in developing our scientific, industrial culture.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in providing or receiving coaching in the workplace.

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Falling on Deaf Ears

Article Overview:
In this excellent article, Sheila Williams looks at the importance of the recipients willingness to listen for feedback to be effective.

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Article Overview:
In this excellent article, Sheila Williams looks at the importance of the recipients willingness to listen for feedback to be effective.

Opening Words:
Feedback offers us an opportunity to gain insight into how others perceive and experience us and yet, on occasions we resolutely refuse to hear it. This can happen when we have a knee-jerk response to something that hurts us. Yet, given time, we may bring ourselves to consider the view put forward. However, outright refusal to listen and reflect on feedback also occurs when it contradicts or is not consistent with strongly held beliefs we hold about ourselves, about others or about our view of the world.

This was the case for Richard who was unsuccessful in his application to go on his organisation’s leadership development programme. After the selection process, he was given feedback that suggested he needed to focus on developing his communication and inter-personal skills. A specific comment related to the dismissive way he dealt with ideas and contributions from colleagues. When talking this through with him he was quite scornful about the feedback, seeing it as carping criticism. He felt that his organisation did not want “charismatic leaders” as he considered himself to be.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone - whether giving or receiving feedback.

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Good Practice in Appraisals

Article Overview:
All managers know that staff appraisals are an essential part of ‘performance management’. But Organisational Development Consultant, Jeremy Thorn, suggests that ‘performance enhancement’ might be a far more rewarding focus.

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Article Overview:
All managers know that staff appraisals are an essential part of ‘performance management’. But Organisational Development Consultant, Jeremy Thorn, suggests that ‘performance enhancement’ might be a far more rewarding focus.

Opening Words:
In some organisations, appraisals are widely reported to be dreaded, by both managers and subordinates. Managers often dislike conducting them, especially those who have not been trained, perhaps because they see appraisal interviews as a possibly embarrassing formality, which take up too much precious time. And across the desk, staff often say they find appraisals daunting, often threatening and, sometimes, even de-motivating. Done badly, the appraisal process can indeed frustrate and damage staff relations, especially if seen as a one-off ‘end of term report’ – or even worse, a ‘character assassination’!  

Done well, however, an appraisal can be genuinely productive and enjoyable, for both the appraiser and the appraised. Indeed, in many organisations, I hear complaints by staff very much more often that their appraisals have not been carried out by their busy line managers on time, rather than that they have happened at all.

How does any organisation ever achieve such a positive outlook?

Useful Reading For:

All managers and anyone wanting to improve the way the appraisal system is used in their organisation.

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How Am I Doing?

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

About

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

Opening Words:
This is the first of three articles about working with feedback. The second article is entitled “If Feedback is so valuable why do we keep it to ourselves?”. The third article is entitled “Who do you think you are?”.

The following story illustrates that getting useful feedback needs a little more thought than just asking, “How am I doing?”

It was the first working day of the new month and Matt Turner realised it was his monthly review meeting with his boss, Jenny Machin, that afternoon. Matt prided himself on being well prepared for these meetings so he checked his figures for the previous month, his year to date achievements, his plans for the coming month, his staff issues and achievements and his forecast for the remainder of the year.

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone who wants to develop their ability to obtain valuable and meaningful feedback from others, or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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If Feedback Is So Valuable, Why Do We Keep It To Ourselves?

Article Overview:
The second in three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback. This one looks at our willingness to give feedback when requested.

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Article Overview:
The second in three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback. This one looks at our willingness to give feedback when requested.

Opening Words:
The last article discussed the value of asking for feedback and how we can help and encourage our colleagues to give us feedback. The other side of the coin, of course, is “How willing and how effective are we at giving feedback when asked?”.

We can often find it much more difficult to give feedback than receive it. We can even find it difficult to give praise. I’m told the three greatest causes of stress are overwork, boredom and not feeling valued. (Take a look at your last employee survey to see if you and your colleagues feel valued, recognised and well rewarded). As you read this can you think of any recent instances when you wanted to give some feedback to somebody but decided not to? Can you remember why you decided not to?

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone interested in developing their own ability to give and receive meaningful feedback or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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Playing To Your Personal Strengths

Article Overview:
This interesting article from Sheila Williams, looks at personal conflict in the workplace and looks at how our preferred behaviours can bring us into conflict with others who have different preferences.

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Article Overview:
This interesting article from Sheila Williams, looks at personal conflict in the workplace and looks at how our preferred behaviours can bring us into conflict with others who have different preferences.

Opening Words:
In a week of battling against the winter elements I have also been exploring conflict of a different nature – person to person. The type of interpersonal conflict that can for no apparent reason (at least to the warring parties), spring up in the workplace. Part of this has led to an exploration of how we deploy our personal strengths and whether over-use of these, in certain circumstances, can tip them over into becoming weaknesses.

We develop behaviours that, when used to good effect, over time, become our preferred way of doing things. We consider them as our personal strengths. However, the more we use them and the more success we have with their use then the more we can slip into auto-pilot mode, with an expectation that their use will always produce success. In this way, we sometimes overlook the fact that using a particular personal strength may be inappropriate to the context or situation in which we find ourselves.

Useful Reading For:
Line managers and trainers.

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Reviewing for Development

Article Overview:
If your work is about personal development, social development, team development, leadership development, management development, or 'anything' development you should find some useful ideas and tips in this article from Roger Greenaway about reviewing for development.

About

Article Overview:
If your work is about personal development, social development, team development, leadership development, management development, or 'anything' development you should find some useful ideas and tips in this article from Roger Greenaway about reviewing for development.

Opening Words:
Much advice about reviewing (or debriefing) assumes that the main purpose is to facilitate learning. So what should you do differently when the emphasis is on facilitating development?

One (partly right) answer is that development arises as a direct result of what is experienced during the 'activity' and that learning mostly happens after the activity when reviewing the experience. For example, the sense of achievement on completing a rock climb happens as the climber completes the final move. Such achievements have an impact on development - whether or not much learning arises directly from the achievement. It is during reflection and review after the climb that the climber can learn more from the experience than was possible while engrossed in the climbing. The climber may learn through feedback during a review that their communication was poor or that their recklessness was endangering others, or during a review they may learn how they can also control other fears in other situations. A review can take learning in many directions that were not fully apparent at the time of the developmental experience.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in the development of others.

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The Differences Between Coaching and its Related Fields

Article Overview:
This is a superb article from Carol Wilson, Head of Accreditation at the Association for Coaching and essential reading for anyone interested in coaching and performance coaching.

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Article Overview:
This is a superb article from Carol Wilson, Head of Accreditation at the Association for Coaching and essential reading for anyone interested in coaching and performance coaching.

Opening Words:
Carol Wilson, Head of Accreditation at the Association for Coaching, and Gladeana McMahon, Fellow of the Association for Coaching, explore the differences between coaching and the related disciplines of counselling, psychotherapy, mentoring and consulting. Coaching draws its influences from and stands on the shoulders of a wide range of disciplines, including counselling, management consultancy, personal development, and psychology. However, there are a number of core differences which distinguish coaching from its related fields. This article is based on a chapter of the book ‘The Handbook of Best Coaching’, produced by the Association for Coaching and available at a reduced price of £20 on www.associationforcoaching.com.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in coaching who wishes to explore the origins and influences of coaching.

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The Effectiveness of Coaching in Work Life Balance

Article Overview:
This article looks at how coaching can help people achieve a healthy work life balance. Apparently, a survey by CIPD found that professionals in the UK would sacrifice up to 40% of their annual salary in order to achieve a better work life balance.

About

Article Overview:
This article looks at how coaching can help people achieve a healthy work life balance. Apparently, a survey by CIPD found that professionals in the UK would sacrifice up to 40% of their annual salary in order to achieve a better work life balance.

Opening Words:
A survey by the CIPD claimed that professionals in the UK would sacrifice up to 40% of their annual salary – an average £13,253 a year - if it meant achieving better work-life balance.

Why has work-life balance become such a hot topic in recent years? The sheer number of choices available today can leave the average professional sinking under a mountain of obligations, leisure activities and family commitments.

Entertainment for our grandparents was limited to a sing-song round the piano and, for their children, a game of hop scotch in the car-free street outside. They didn’t have to spend their weekends searching for the elusive best deal on new cars, fridges or the bewildering array of media technology available today; and two weeks in Yarmouth provided an annual treat, without hours of net-surfing for that last-minute, dream holiday.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in coaching or looking at how coaching can affect our lives.

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Which Course Do You Want To Go On This Year?

Article Overview:
This article considers the importance of using a facilitative approach to identify training needs.

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Article Overview:
This article considers the importance of using a facilitative approach to identify training needs.

Opening Words:
The performance review isn’t simply an opportunity to review what’s happened and dish out praise or criticism accordingly. In fact calling a performance review a review at all is unfortunate, because an effective appraisal should be as concerned with looking forward as it is with reviewing what has already happened.

The review should be used, for example, as an opportunity to check that previously agreed objectives remain appropriate, and to change these if necessary. It’s also an important opportunity to identify what training, development and support an individual will require in order to meet the challenges of the future. If you fail to identify the training and development needs of your team, you are not only failing them, but you are failing the business as well. You wouldn’t send your teenager into town in your new sports car, unless you were pretty sure they could drive competently, so why would you risk giving a member of staff an objective without considering whether they are competent to complete it, and if not, what additional training they’ll need?

Useful Reading For:
Managers and team leaders involved in performance reviews.

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Who Do You Think You Are?

Article Overview:
The final of three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback, this one looks at what happens when we receive feedback from others.

About

Article Overview:
The final of three articles from Ian Clarke about feedback, this one looks at what happens when we receive feedback from others.

Opening Words:
The previous two articles discussed the value of asking for feedback and how effective we are at giving feedback to our colleagues. This article explores what can happen when we are the recipients of feedback.

How good are we at hearing what people say when they are talking about our behaviour. Are we able to accept praise? When someone says we have done a good job do we believe him or her? How do we respond? “Thank you – I appreciate your comments” or “It was nothing – just doing my job”.

Are we able to accept criticism? When someone says we could have done a better job do we believe him or her? How do we respond? “Thank you – it would help me to hear your views on how I can improve” or “Hey – give me a break – I’d like to see you do better”. Even if we don’t actually say it we may start thinking – “Who do you think you are talking to me like that?”

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone wishing to develop their ability to receive feedback objectively or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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