Tag Archives: coaching

Effective Coaching Skills

Effective Coaching Skills


Coaching focuses on developing skills and improving the performance of others. However, to be an effective coach, you must also build good relationships, analyze performance, communicate effectively, and motivate individuals. These functions are associated with specific sets of skills. And to be an effective coach, you must develop these skills.

Effective coaching skills



Effective Coaching Skills sets can be divided into three categories:

  1. Human Relations skills
  2. Analytical Skills
  3. Communication skills




Human Relations Skills

Human relations skills are those interpersonal skills that allow you to effectively interact with other people and strengthen your relationships with others. Human relations skills that are most directly related to coaching include:

  • Building Relationships
  • Supporting and Encouraging
  • Challenging and Motivating


Building Relationships

Building trust and rapport are foundational skills for a coach. If there is no trust or rapport in the relationship, the rest of the skills will be must less effective.   If the individual does not trust or respect you, he or she more than likely will not listen to your direction or guidance.

Rapport building begins by creating a comfortable atmosphere during the sessions. Use their name, smile, make eye contact, and praise them. The key to building rapport starts by learning about them and showing genuine interest in them as a person.


Supporting and Encouraging

Support and encouragement helps the individual feel comfortable and helps them build confidence as they step out of their comfort zone. Supporting and encouraging can be the difference between someone giving up or continuing to improve.


Challenging and Motivating

The ultimate goal of coaching is performance improvement. In order to improve an individual’s performance, you must motivate and challenge them to reach that next level.

Support and encouragement help give the individual confidence when stepping out of his or her comfort zone, but it does not push them to reach higher levels. Challenging and motivating is about pushing them to reach their utmost potential.


Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are those which help you examine and break down information. Analytical skills give you the ability to think logically, break things down, and recognize cause and effect. By developing these skills, you are able to conduct cause and effect analysis in a systematic, step-by-step manner. Analytical skills related to coaching include:

  • Observing and Analyzing

Observing and Analyzing

To be effective as a coach you must be able to observe and analyze performance. You have to know what the individual needs to do to improve his or her performance. This includes focusing on performance gaps between current performance and desired performance, and being able to assess what needs to be done to reach the desired performance.


Communication Skills

Most of the coaching skills center on communication skills. Communication skills allows you to effectively convey information to another. Since coaching involves a lot of discussions between the coach and the individual, it is essential that coaches have excellent communication skills. The communication skills needed to effectively coach others include:

  • Listening
  • Questioning
  • Providing Instruction
  • Providing Feedback



Effective listening involves a conscious effort to hear not only the words that another person is saying, but also the message he or she is trying to convey. You need to be listening not just to the words, but also to the tone and to the non-verbal signals such as body language.

The ability to be a good listener is essential to coaching. Therefore, to enhance your active listening skills, you need to let the other person know that you are listening to what he or she is saying. You should act in a way that will both encourage him or her to continue speaking, so that you can get the information you need. Acknowledgement can be a simple nod of the head. Paraphrasing and summarizing are also good ways to show you are actively listening to what they are trying to convey.



A coach must be able to utilize effective questioning techniques and must know how to ask probing questions that are open-ended.

As a coach you want to ask open-ended questions, rather than closed-ended questions. Open-ended questions are effective because it encourages the individual to elaborate more. Additionally, asking open-ended questions not only extends the conversation, but allows the individual a chance for self-assessment and self-exploration.

By asking open-ended questions, you give the individual an opportunity to find answers within themselves. This will allow more self-exploration to occur.

Good follow-up questions after an individual’s response helps them to further assess their performance and move them to the desired performance.


Providing Instruction

Before providing instruction, you should think about and plan what you are going to say. Keep it simple and to the point, and do not overwhelm them with information.

When providing instructions, make sure you identify key points to focus on, emphasize important elements, and check for understanding by asking open questions.

Also, consider that there are times when it might be more effective to provide a demonstration in addition to verbal instructions. This gives the individual the opportunity to not only hear what needs to be done, but also get to visually see how it should be done.


Providing Feedback

When giving a person feedback on his or her performance, it is important to do it in a way that is positive and motivating. Feedback given in an unthoughtful or negative manner may stifle a person’s self-confidence and personal development, thus setting performance back. If the person receiving the feedback feels he or she is being criticized, he or she may become demotivated, perform slower, and/or become distracted.

When providing feedback, you should attempt to make it specific, clear, relevant, helpful, and positive. Additionally, it important to give feedback that encourages the individual to take the information and use it to improve performance.


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Types of Coaching

Types of Coaching

Coaching is used in sports, business, and personal life. The focus and approach of coaching can vary depending on the arena in which it is used. There are several categories or types of coaching:


  • Sports Coaching
  • Personal Growth or Life Coaching
  • Business Coaching
  • Executive Coaching
  • Career Coaching


Types of Coaching



Sports Coaching      

Sports coaching is what many people think of when they hear the term “coaching.” Sports coaching focuses primarily on particular sports or activities, but may encompass other elements of health and physical fitness such as diet, fitness, exercise, or mental conditioning.

The goal of this type of coaching is to the improve performance of individuals or groups who are engage in a particular sport. The coaching process involves analyzing technique and performance, and then objectively providing feedback on that performance. The coach will instruct the individual or group how to act or perform. Additionally, the coach may focus on the “mental game”, helping individuals with his or her psychological preparation.


Personal Growth or Life Coaching

Personal or life coaching provides support to individuals wishing to make some form of significant change happen within his or her life. The purpose of this type of coaching is to help an individual move forward from their present situation to make their life better, and enable that individual to become the person they wish to become.

Life coaches help individuals to explore what they want in life and how they might achieve their aspirations and fulfil their dreams. Life coaches typically ask questions that will challenge the individual to find answers from within him or herself. Its purpose is to draw out a person’s potential rather than attempt to put knowledge into a person. The process is more reflective than directive. This type of coaching helps the individual to discover answers based on his or her own values, preferences, and perspective.



Business Coaching

Business coaching is a general term used to describe coaching individuals in the business setting. The overall goal of business coaching is to provide support to employees in order to improve his or her effectiveness at completing job tasks. A business coach provides support, feedback, and advice to an individual or team to help improve performance and/or facilitate professional development.

This type of coaching is usually performed by managers or senior members of an organization. The focus is to help people further develop existing skills and learn new skills. It extends learning and performance improvement beyond traditional classroom training. A business coach works with individuals and teams to assess and analyze job performance and provide feedback as he or she is doing the job.


Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a type of business coaching. It is typically focused on developing senior leaders within an organization to improve his or her leadership skills and personal performance. The theory is that by improving the performance of the leaders within the organization, the overall business results will improve.

Unlike the general business coaching, which is performed by someone from within the organization, executive coaching is often delivered by coaches from outside the organization. These coaches focus on developing leadership skills, formulating strategies, and building relationships.


Career Coaching

Career Coaching is a cross between business coaching and life coaching. Career Coaching focuses on making decisions and changes regarding a person’s career. It is a thought-provoking process that encourages self-discovery and inspires a person to maximize his or her professional potential. The process should lead to increased clarity for the individual and action towards improving his or her current situation.

A career coach utilizes a range of skills and techniques including advising, consulting, and mentoring. They also use various types of psychometric tools to help the individual get additional insight into their career preferences. Psychometric tests include personality profiles, motivation questionnaires, and ability assessments. These tests can help discover values and interests that are fundamental to a person’s overall career satisfaction.

The ultimate goal of a career coach is to improve an individual’s outlook on his or her career by helping them discover and clarify what they want to achieve, and align their goals with their actions.



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Skill and Will

Using the Skill Will Matrix

The Skill Will matrix is used to identify the person’s combination of skill level and willingness to accomplish a specific task. Knowledge of a person’s skill and will levels can assist you in creating a plan of action to help them to achieve the desired results.

Will is an individual’s desire to complete a particular task based on attitude, incentives, confidence, and personal feelings about completing the task. People have many different motivations for completing a task. Some may do it for money, others for recognition, and others may just do it for personal satisfaction.

Skill is an individual’s capability or proficiency to complete a specific task. People have different skill levels when it comes to completing a specific task. People’s level of skill can often depend on their experience and familiarity with the task, training, understanding, or natural abilities.



Assessing Skill and Will

People’s skill and will levels vary depending on several different factors. By plotting an individual’s levels along a scale from low to high can help you determine what techniques you can employ to manage that individual to success.

The goal is to help the person attain both a high skill level and a high will level.



Causes of Deficiency

There may be several different reasons why a person lacks the necessary skills or the will to perform a task.

A person may have a low skill level if:

  • it is a new task
  • they do not have the necessary knowledge
  • they have not receive the proper training
  • they do not have enough experience with the task
  • they do not understand what is expected


A person may have a low will level if:

  • there are no incentives to accomplish the task
  • There is no personal satisfaction
  • The task is boring or mundane
  • Low self-confidence
  • They do not receive the proper recognition for accomplishing the task



Completing an Assessment

Step one: Determine his or her skill level.

  1. Determine if he or she has experience, training, and/or knowledge.
  2. Determine if his or her skill level is high, low, or somewhere in between


Step two: Determine his or her willingness level

  1. Determine if he or she has the desire to accomplish the task
  2. Determine if there are any incentives for accomplishing the task
  3. Determine if his or her will level is high, low, or somewhere in between



Creating the Matrix

By assessing a person’s skill and will, you are able to plot them on a graph. One dimension is skill, the other is will.

Skill will

A person may really want to accomplish a specific task, but unfortunately he or she may not have the knowledge or training to do so. On the other axis is a person’s willingness or desire to perform a particular task. A person may be extremely skilled at a task, but lack the motivation to complete it.

Based on the assessment of an individual’s skills and willingness to perform, you can choose how to best manage or coach him or her towards success.




The basic Skill Will matrix is divided into quadrants. Depending on the combination of ability and willingness to perform a task, individuals fall in one of the quadrants on the matrix. Some Skill Will models will have more than four divisions.

Skill will Matrix

Determining the Type

Depending on where they fall on the graph, a person will fall within one of four categories.

  • Shining star
  • Novice
  • Coaster
  • Problem Child


Shining Stara person who has both skill and will to perform the task. This is often an experienced person who is looking for more opportunities to grow and develop new skills.


Novicea person who has the desire to complete the task, but lacks the necessary skills. Typically this is a person new to a particular task who is enthusiastic, but lacks the skills or knowledge needed.


Coastera person who has the skill and ability, but not the will or motivation to complete the task. This is often a skilled, experienced person who may have hit a plateau and needs a new challenge.


Problem Childa person who has neither the skill set nor the will to complete the task. This is often a person who has started a new task that they did not desire.   However, this may also be a beginner to a task who has low confidence and who is afraid to fail.



Management and Coaching Techniques

The Skill Will Matrix is a guide to choosing the best management or coaching style to guide others to success. The matrix allows you to understand different types of individuals and apply specific techniques that help them perform better. The matrix helps you match a person’s combination of skill level and willingness to four different management or coaching styles.


Skill and Will



The goal of this style is to empower and stretch them. This group has the necessary skills, so find opportunities to help him or her grow and develop more skills.



With this style, take advantage of his or her motivation and invest time early on in building their skills. Provide the proper training and create a risk-free environment to allow for learning.



When dealing with this group, identify the reason(s) for his or her low motivation, and find incentives to motivate him or her. Create both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and incentives.



With this group, you will need to build both skill and will. First, identify the reason(s) for the low motivation. Foster his or her desire to complete the task before building skill sets by creating both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Then provide the proper training and support.



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Differences Coaching Mentoring

Differences Coaching Mentoring

People often use the terms “coaching” and “mentoring” interchangeably. However, they represent two separate and distinct types of functions and relationships.

They do share some basic principles such as developing, supporting, and encouraging others. They also both involve the use of the same skills of questioning, listening, clarifying, and reframing. However, the way they interact, the roles, and the overall focus is significantly different.


Coaching is a more formal structured relationship centered on improving an individual’s performance and focuses on specific skills and goals.


Mentoring is a more informal relationship centered on an association in which a more experienced individual uses his or her knowledge to guide the development of an inexperienced individual. Mentoring focuses on the individual and his or her overall career and/or personal development.



Differences Coaching Mentoring Chart


Differences coaching mentoring



10 Differences Coaching Mentoring


The following are key difference between coaching and mentoring.



Mentoring is focused on the person’s overall growth and development. Its purpose is to develop an individual not only for his or her current role, but also for the future.

Coaching, on the other hand, is focused on improvements in behavior and performance to resolve present issues. The purpose of coaching is to improve the individual’s performance for a specific current task. It involves either enhancing current skills or acquiring new skills.




Coaching occurs in a performance based arena such as a sport or business.

Mentoring deals with broader life and career issues. Therefore, mentoring can occur in various areas of life. It may be with at-risk youth, in schools, or with business organizations.




Mentors are facilitators and teachers allowing the mentee to discover his or her own direction. The emphasis is on active listening, providing information, making suggestions, and establishing connections.

A coach’s role is to improve performance through the use of objectives and goals. The emphasis is on instruction, assessment, and monitoring.




Coaching is task oriented. Coaches focus on improvement of knowledge, skills, or abilities to better perform a given task. This requires the coach to be a content expert who is capable of teaching the individual how to develop these skills.

Mentoring is relationship oriented. Both parties mutually share ideas and thoughts about different issues that affect his or her professional and personal success.




Mentoring is a two-way mutually beneficial relationship. Often times, a person picks his or her mentor. The mentor is usually not a direct supervisor or manager. It is usually someone else within an organization that has experience and knowledge.   The immediate supervisor is not directly involved with mentoring except maybe to offer suggestions on how to best use the mentoring experience or may connect a person to be a mentor.

A coach is often the person’s direct report (i.e. a person for which the coach is directly responsible). It is usually his or her supervisor or manager. He or she has a direct vested interest in the person’s performance.



Source of Influence

Because of the different relationships, there is a different level of influence. The coach has direct influence since the person is often his or her direct report. A coach has an actual level of authority by nature of his or her position.

A mentor’s influence, on the other hands, will be based on the perceived value of their advice and guidance. It is a power free relationship, hence, the individual does not have to follow the advice. A mentor dispenses advice which the mentee is free to pick and choose what they do. However, they usually follow because of the mutual respect and value of the mentor.



Personal Objective

The coach’s personal benefit is mainly in the form of job performance. If the person does well at the task the coach directly benefits.

A mentor gets personal satisfaction from helping to develop another person.



Time Frame

Coaching is often short-term and focused on resolving specific developmental issues. A coach can provide necessary direction and feedback in just a few sessions. Once the individual successfully acquires the skills, the coach is no longer needed.

A mentor is personally involved in a person’s long-term development. Therefore, it is an ongoing relationship that can last for years. It is more long-term because takes a broader view of the individual. It is not focused on fixing a specific issue.  It is also a relationship that is built on trust which takes time to develop.



Approach and Structure

Mentoring is a self-directed and flexible. It is more informal and meetings can take place as and when the mentee needs some advice, guidance, or support.

Coaching approach is more structured and formal. Often times, meetings are scheduled on a regular basis. Those meeting are oriented toward specific results.




A coach has an agenda that is focused on achieving specific and immediate goals. He or she sets an agenda to reinforce or change skills and behaviors. The coach creates the need for discussion and is responsible for follow up and holding others accountable.

Since the mentoring focus is on career and personal development, the context does not have specific performance objectives. Participants have choices on what to discuss. The agenda is often set by the mentee, with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles.


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GROW Model for Coaching

The GROW Model for Coaching


The GROW Model for coaching is one of the most established models in the coaching industry. The model can help you coach and guide others to improve his or her performance.

GROW is an acronym for:




Will / What when whom


The model is simple, but every effective. The model provides a great framework for structuring a coaching session.



Four Stages

The GROW Model for coaching is a tool to elicit and maximize a person’s potential through a series of conversations. The model flows as a sequence of steps to facilitate discussions.

  1. Goal – defining what he or she wants to achieve
  2. Reality – exploring the current situation
  3. Options – coming up with new ideas, alternative strategies and courses of action for reaching the goal
  4. Will / What’s Next – deciding on a concrete plan of action What is to be done, when, by whom and the will to do it.

These steps will result in the creation of an action plan of practical techniques to overcome obstacles and accomplish goals.

Changing the Order

Although it is designed as a sequence, it is not intended to be a rigid structure that must be followed in precise order. It should be used as a guide to help direct a person in order to improve his or her performance.

For example, you may need to go back to re-establish a specific goal if you find the current situation will not allow him or her to accomplish the goal.

Also, when discussing options, you should go back and review the goal to ensure the options will help you move towards the desired goal.


Raising Awareness through Questioning

By using carefully structured questions, you promote a deeper awareness for the individual. You allow them to reflect on what they would like to achieve, assess their situation, and create a plan of action.

By working through the four stages, you can raise his or her awareness and understanding of:

  • his or her personal and/or professional goals
  • his or her current situation and beliefs
  • the possibilities for courses of action and resources available
  • the actions he or she want to take to reach their goals

In addition to awareness, you provide guidance and encourage proactive behavior that will lead to setting practical steps to accomplish goals.



The GROW Model for Coaching through the Four Stages

GROW model for coaching

Goal – Establish the Goal

The first step is to identify and clarify the goal to be achieved.

This goal should be written as a SMART Goal. That is, it should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. By setting SMART goals that are both inspiring and challenging, the GROW Model helps foster confidence and self-motivation, leading to improved performance.

During this stage, you should ask questions regarding what they hope to achieve.

Questions to define the goal may include:

  • What is important to you?
  • What specifically do you want to achieve?
  • What’s important about this for you?
  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?


Reality – Examine Current Reality

After a goal is established, you want the individual to assess the current situation. This is done to determine how far they are away from their goal.

To do this, you have them view it in terms of the action taken so far as well as all the steps he or she needs to take in order to achieve the goal. The “Reality” would be the number of steps they have completed so far and what is still left to do.

Effective questions about reality can help raise an individual’s awareness of their situation. You want them to understand the obstacles currently preventing or limiting progression. This will help to prepare them for thinking about options.

Asking open-ended questions invites them to look from different perspectives and in greater depth.
Questions to examine the current situation may include:

  • What is the situation that you are currently in?
  • What have you done so far?
  • What do you still need to do to reach your goal?
  • Is there anything slowing your progress?
  • Are there any roadblocks in the way?
  • What resources do you have?
  • Are there other people that can help you?



Options – Explore the Options

Once you have explored the current reality, it’s time to explore the options for reaching the goal.

This stage helps identify the possibilities and alternatives. This is the stage where you ask questions about potential options for reaching the goal.

Questions should encourage creative and divergent thinking, and not focus on assumptions about boundaries, as they can limit options.  “What if…?” questions are a great way to expand thinking past the usual mindsets and boundaries.   These types of questions enable people to step outside their current perceptions of the situation.

Open-ended questions to help explore options may include:

  • What could you do?
  • What ideas can you bring in from past successes?
  • What haven’t you tried yet?
  • What approaches have you seen used in similar circumstances?
  • What if you had enough time?
  • What if you had enough money?
  • What if you had help?
  • What if this obstacle was removed?



Way forward – what will you do?

Establish the Will

This stage is about generating commitment on behalf of the individual to take specific action. By doing this, you also help create his or her will and motivation towards achieving the goal.

In this stage, you want the individual to create a plan of action for implementation of the identified steps. You want them to be specific about what is to be done, and when it is to be done.

Questions to help create a specific plan of action may include:

  • What will you do?
  • What actions can you take right away?
  • How long will it take?
  • When will you start?
  • When will it be done?
  • Will this action help reach your goal?
  • What else will you do?
  • Who do you need to involve?
  • What are the benefits of reaching your goals?
  • How will you feel when you reach your goal?


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Coaching Model

Coaching Model


What is a Coaching Model?

A Coaching Model is a method designed to guide an individual through a process from where they are currently to where they want to be.

The purpose of a coaching model is to create a framework for guiding another person through the following steps:

  1. establishing a desired goal
  2. understanding where they are
  3. exploring options for where they are headed
  4. determining what may be obstacles
  5. establishing a plan of action



Benefit of a Coaching Model

Using a coaching model will help you to ensure you have a plan for your coaching session.  It provides a consistent framework for the flow of the conversation. It gives you a structure that guides the process as you coach someone. Having this framework and a flow for a coaching session will help ensure you stay focused and better able to manage the coaching interaction. It also ensures all of the necessary steps are covered.


Popular Coaching Models

Coaching Models are typically comprised of the steps that are outlined by an easy to remember acronym.  Below is a series of popular coaching models that you can use to assist an individual in reaching his or her goals.

All these coaching models can help drive your conversation and lead to a productive coaching session.

Although this models are all different, they do have some fundamental commonalities. These models are centered on trust, questioning, and open communication. There focus is on the establishment of goals, exploration of options, and a plan of action to achieve those goals.

Coaching Models

GROW Coaching Model

G – Goal Setting

R – Reality

O – Options

W – What Action is Next



ACHIEVE Coaching Model

A – Assess the current situation

C – Creatively brainstorm alternatives

H – Hone goals

I – Initiate options

E – Evaluate options

V – Validate an action program design

E – Encourage momentum



FUEL model

F – Frame the conversation

U – Understand the current state

E – Explore the desired state

L – Lay out a success



OSKAR model

O – Outcome of coaching that is expected

S – Scaling the situation on a slide of 1 to 10

K – Know-how and resources available

A – Affirm plan and take action

R – Review what worked



CLEAR Coaching Model

C – Contracting

L – Listening

E – Exploring

A – Action

R – Review




S – Subject

T – Target

E – Emotion

P – Perception

P – Plan

P – Pace

A – Adapt or Act



S – State the Problem

O – Observe the Problem Resolved

L – List the Exceptions

V – Verify the Plan

E – Execute the Plan



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Coaching for Performance

Coaching for Performance


Coaching is facilitating the performance and guiding the development of another person in order for them to achieve his or her fullest potential.


Coaching for Performance

Coaching has the ability to unlock human potential at all levels of performance.  It can be used to help improve a physical skill, like in a sport, or a mental skill, like job function or test taking.  Also, it can be done on-on-one or within a group.



Types of Coaching

There are several different types of coaching including coaching for sports, life, personal growth, career, and business.

Business Coaching – goal is to observe, analyze, and provide feedback on an individual’s job performance.

Sports Coaching – goal is to improve athletic technique and performance for individuals and teams.

Life or Personal Coaching – goal is to help individuals move forward from their present situation and to reach their personal goals.

Types of Coaching2

No matter what the type, the overall goal of coaching is to unlock a person’s potential so that they can maximize their own performance.



The Focus of Coaching for Performance

Coaching focuses on guiding another person to allow him or her to grow to reach his or her full potential. It is based on asking probing self-reflective questions, rather than telling or directing. It focuses on eliciting thought to allow a person to understand his or her current position and options in order to allow them to make decisions about future actions. Additionally, coaching puts the onus on the individual and makes him or her responsible for his or her own development.

The coaching methods focus on:

  • an individual’s or a team’s goals
  • close observation
  • analysis of performance
  • building awareness of a behavior
  • positive and non-judgmental feedback on performance
  • enabling people to change behaviors
  • Setting goals
  • Creating plans of action to reach the goals



Coaching Skills

The purpose of coaching is to improve a person’s performance or increase his or her effectiveness. This is done by utilizing various skills including:

  • Observing
  • Questioning
  • Listening
  • Paraphrasing
  • Providing Assessments
  • Providing Feedback
  • Building Rapport
  • Challenging
  • Supporting
  • Encouraging
  • Building Confidence


Coaching for Performance


Benefits of Coaching for Performance

There are many benefits to coaching for performance.

Benefits include:

  • Strengthened skills
  • Improved productivity
  • Increased effectiveness
  • Enhanced self-discovery
  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased self-knowledge
  • Increased self-worth
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased self-sufficiency
  • Opened communication
  • Established trust
  • Established accountability
  • Improved relationships
  • Increased Motivation
  • Achieved goals


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Effective Feedback


Effective Feedback


10 Tips for Effective Feedback

When giving a person feedback on his/her performance, it is important to do it in a way that is positive and motivating. Feedback given in an unthoughtful or negative manner may further set performance back.  If the person receiving the feedback feels he/she is being criticized, he/she may become demotivated, perform slower, and/or become distracted. Basically, poor feedback can be worse than no feedback.

Therefore, it important to give feedback that encourages the individual to take the information and use it to improve his/her performance.

Below is a list of suggestions to consider when giving a person feedback on his/her performance.


Start Positive

Feedback is intended to reinforce positive behavior and correct any negative behaviors. If you start out telling a person what he/she did wrong, chances are he/she will mentally shut you out. The recipient may take it as a personal attack and get defensive or may start thinking about the negative repercussions of their performance (e.g. getting fired). Whatever the reason, they tune you out right at the beginning.

If you want them to embrace your feedback, start off positive. Tell them, in an honest and sincere way, what they did well. People like to hear good things about themselves. They like to know others recognize the good things they do and their positive qualities. By telling them positives, it will place them in an optimistic state of mind and create a positive connection between the both of you.



Be Positive

Don’t just start positive, be positive. The overall feedback should encourage and motivate the individual to want to improve his/her performance. Give at least as much positive feedback as you do negative. Positive feedback stimulates the reward centers in the brain, having the person open to changing behaviors.

On the other hand, negative feedback indicates that changes need to be made and the person’s threat response turns on and they may get defensive. You do not need to avoid negative feedback altogether, just make sure you follow it up with a suggested solution or recommendation.

You do, however, want to avoid negative phrases. As part of keeping it positive, avoid using negative phrases that discourage. Avoid such phrases as;

“You shouldn’t…,”

“You don’t know…..”

“You can’t seem to…..”


Negative language puts people in a defensive mind set or causes them to shut down and disregard the feedback. Instead, use encouraging phrases such as;

“I think if we….”

“How about we try…”

“I believe if you…”

“Maybe if we considered doing…”



Focus on Observable Behavior

Feedback should provide information, not judgments. Therefore, when giving effective feedback, focus on observable behavior, instead of making broad judgments or giving personal opinions. Have fact based examples of specific behavior(s) you observed that you can share with the person. Instead of saying “that last call lacked customer service” (which is a personal judgment), you may something like “I noticed when you spoke to the customer you did not use her name.”

Furthermore, the information should be based on what you have personally seen, and not hearsay. You cannot provide effective feedback on behavior that you have not observed. That is not fair to the recipient.



Be Specific

When giving feedback describe a specific example of the behavior you observed. Tell the person exactly what he/she need to improve on. Generic comments do not clearly address the problem or what behaviors need to change. Being specific tells the other person exactly what is working or what is not working.



Be Clear and Concise

Be clear about the behavior your feedback addresses. Do not dance around the issue. Make your point as concisely as possible. In a straightforward manner, link the information to his/her behaviors and how it will help them perform better.

In addition to being concise on specific aspects of behavior, do not overwhelm them with recommendations. If you recognize the individual needs to change several behaviors, start with the main changes you want to see. After those changes have improved, address the next set of issues by importance. If you give the person too many things to change, it can become overwhelming for them, and they may perform very slowly. Also, by giving several behaviors to work on, they may focus on the less important issues.




When it comes to feedback, the sooner the better. Feedback is most effective when it is given immediately, rather than a few days, weeks, or months later. The closer to the actual event, the more pertinent and relevant your feedback will be. Therefore, try to provide feedback as close to the demonstrated behavior as possible. If you wait, the individual will need to rely on memory of how they performed, which can be faulty.


Effective Feedback

Focus on the Future

Focus on correcting the problem. Do not look to blame or criticize. Do not rehash poor performance or a mistake.  Address it and move on.

If there is a performance problem, you should not avoid it or minimize it. You should address it, have them acknowledge it, and then focus on solutions together. For example, if a project did not go well, you may say “we had a few problems with the last project including timeliness of the reports sent to the other teams, what are some things we can do to make sure the reports are timely for the upcoming project?”

Dwelling on the problem or issue often creates hostility or negative feelings for the recipient. Generally, people do not want to be criticized for their behavior. If they feel they are being criticized, they may become defensive. The purpose of providing feedback is to correct the problem and improve future performance. Blaming or criticizing a person can hamper that performance improvement process.



Involve Them

To effectively change a person’s behavior, you must get them involved. And the sooner they are involved in the process the better.

You may start by asking the individual to explain how they perceived their performance. By asking non-threatening questions you help the person evaluate his/her own performance. That personal evaluation can provide valuable insight into their perception and possible solutions. Also, by having the recipient involved in the process, you get buy-in from them for changing his/her behaviors.



Provide Solutions and Direction

The feedback must make sense to the person so he/she can incorporate it into future performance. Therefore, when telling a person what they need to improve upon, give them direction. Do not simply tell them what they need to improve, give them actual techniques and suggestions on how to improve.

Most people want to perform well, but sometimes they just do not know what to do to improve.

If possible, involve them in the development of possible solutions. Ask them what they think they can do to improve performance. Once again, by getting them involved, gets you buy-in from them for changing behavior.




At the end of the feedback session/discussion, summarize what was discussed and what the recipient will do to improve. This will help to avoid misunderstandings. You want to make sure that the individual understands what he/she can do to improve his/her performance.



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Coaching in Business


What is Coaching?

Coaching is facilitating the performance, learning, and development of another in order for them to achieve his or her fullest potential.

Coaching has the ability to unlock human potential at all levels of performance.  It can be done on-on-one or within a group.  Coaching can help improve a physical skill, like in a sport, or a mental skill, like job function or test taking.

There are several different types of coaching including coaching for sports, life, personal growth, career, and business.  The overall goal of coaching is to unlock a person’s potential so that they can maximize their own performance. 

The coaching methods focus on:

  • an individual’s or a teams goals
  • close observation
  • analysis of performance
  • building awareness of a behavior
  • positive and non-judgmental feedback on performance
  • enabling people to change behaviors



Coaching in Business

Business coaching extends performance improvement beyond traditional training methods.  Traditional training focuses on the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies for individuals who are attempting to acquire the basic understanding in order to perform his or her job functions. 

Coaching extends that learning process beyond the traditional classroom training by continuously analyzing and providing feedback on performance.

An organization may have formal coaching programs for all their employees involving peers, supervisors and/or managers.  Coaching may also occur in an informal relationship within an organization between one individual who has greater expertise than another and offers advice, support, and direction.  Either way, the goal of business coaching is to provide support to an individual or a group in order to improve the effectiveness of their business.  As a business strategy, coaching can change an organization’s culture and increase productivity.



Other Types of Coaching

Sports Coaching’s

Sports Coaching’s goal is to improve technique and performance.  The coaching process evolves analyzing performance and objectively providing feedback on that performance. 

Often the coach will direct or instruct the individual or group on a specific way to act, behave, or perform.  They will also give suggestions on performance techniques.



Personal Growth or Life Coaching

The purpose of the coaching for personal growth is to help them move forward from their present situation.  Personal or life coaching often involves a style in which the coach asks questions and offer opportunities that will challenge the individual to find answers from within him or herself.  Its purpose is to draws out a person’s potential rather than attempt to put knowledge into a person. 

The process is more reflective rather than directive.  This method of coaching facilitates the learner to discover answers based on their values, preferences, and perspective.



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