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Follow Observation with Feedback  

Everyone needs to know how they are doing

If people aren’t given feedback on their performance there is a good chance they won’t identify two important things required to improve. They are:

1. What am I doing well?
2. What do I need to do differently?

Giving people constructive feedback is a valuable part of effective coaching. And you can only give feedback on what you see and hear. So, feedback following observation is logical.


Feedback is factual, and the best feedback is self-realised. The best way to achieve self-realisation with your team member is have them reflect on their performance and then base your conversation with them on a series of well crafted questions.

Leaders new to coaching are frequently surprised at how many opportunities for improvement a team member actually identifies when they are given the chance to properly reflect on their performance and then are asked some direct questions about it.

Think about the Ask Not Tell – that is, based on your reflection of what you have observed with the team member, when you have a suggestion for them, rather than being totally directive and telling them what to do, look for the opportunity to Ask them what they could do differently and see what they come up with.
Let them own it and they are more likely to do it!

When you do need to give some direct feedback on a team member’s actions or behaviours, remember the following key points:

Start with a positive
People need to understand what they are doing well. It increases early engagement in the coaching conversation. And if people don’t know what they are doing well there’s a chance they might stop doing it!

Be specific
Vagaries like “you did a good job” or “you did that well” or “that wasn’t very good” are too general. Identify exactly what was “good” or otherwise.

Give balanced feedback
Make sure your feedback adequately reflects your overall view of the performance you’ve observed. If you rate it highly then ensure the content and tone of your feedback reflects that. And if it was a less than satisfactory performance your feedback should support that view, respectfully. People need to know where they stand.

The questions you ask your team member, following your observation of their performance, can open up a really effective coaching conversation

Take action now:                                           

Use the worksheet to list some of the questions you could ask a team member in a coaching feedback conversation after you have observed them. Remember, Ask Not Tell – use questions to have them identify what happened and how they might do it differently/more effectively.

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