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Coaching Managers on ‘Giving Feedback’

I’ve been coaching a group of managers working within a company of approximately 20 people, working with them one-on-one. Their senior managers are progressive and always pushing for new ways to engage their team. They brought me in to focus on the topic of 'giving feedback,' which is a core part of their company culture.

I spent the first few sessions with the managers as I would with any client, discovering the essence of who they are individually, in their personal lives and at work. We used various coaching models to uncover values, strengths, life purpose, wisdom and also blind spots and Saboteurs.

The manager who was having the most difficult time with giving feedback was able to make a breakthrough after the second session. She identified that her approach to managing had been about ‘following rules,’ which was causing tightness and rigidity. By the next session she had already turned a corner and was showing up as much more free, relaxed and confident.

Another client came to realize that she didn’t have much range as a manager -- she was using the same tone whether she was giving positive feedback or constructive criticism. We created a framework for her to identify the type and level of feedback she wanted to give so that she was offering her team more transparency and more useful communication.

One manager came to realize that while she is strong and resilient, she needed to build her skills as a compassionate leader. We focused on giving feedback as a coach would -- by asking more questions, listening more, being more curious and using her intuition.

Another manager identified that she preferred being in the trenches with her team. She was well liked but lacked authority when it came to giving feedback. Through our coaching sessions she became open to shifting her role, taking charge and delegating more. She’s now stepping back from the tactical day-to-day tasks, giving her team more opportunities to step up and spending her time being more strategic.

Here’s what two of the managers had to say about the leadership and career coaching:

“I’ve learned things about myself that I never focused on, wanted to admit or was able to pinpoint. It’s been helpful in motivating me to do things differently or think about my career/self in a different light. It’s also helped me figure out things about my colleagues and managing others that I was blind to in the past.”

“Having a third-party perspective has been super valuable in terms of being able to absorb the coaching and apply new tools. Conversations we had echoed previous conversations I’ve had with managers / team members, but there was more urgency to solve a problem when it came from a third party. On the flip side, it also amplified the wins and everything that was going well.”

Photo: Cathy McKie

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