Tap the Power of Feedback to Release Potential

As a professional coach, I’ve personally witnessed the sometimes astonishing transformational power of direct, insightful feedback to change people’s lives in positive and impactful ways. I’ve seen people that others have written off as unsalvageable morph into shining stars. I’ve also seen poorly delivered feedback leave people resentful, angry and disengaged. Same activity, totally different results.

Feedback has the power to release or freeze potential in your organization. That’s a lot of power. In fact, feedback may be the most untapped force for positive change in your organization.

The rules of engagement in your business are likely shifting, possibly at an alarming rate, depending upon your industry. That means that even the most fundamental assumptions about what success looks like as a manager, how your company makes money, and what your customers expect are likely different than they were even just a few years ago. Direct, insightful feedback teaches people how to recognize and respond to these shifts in more productive ways—if it is offered in a way that people accept and choose to respond to. There’s the rub, and the opportunity.

To fully tap the power of feedback to unleash individual and organizational potential it needs to shift from being an occasional, sometimes traumatic, event to being a natural, welcome and expected part of how people interact on a daily basis. For that to happen, your organization’s story of what feedback is, and why it matters, may need a radical re-write. Here are four key insights for you to weave into that new story:

Feedback is a gift, not a punishment. Feedback lands like a blow to the side of the head when it’s delivered with the intention of punishing the person for doing something “wrong.” The overtones of judgment and condemnation cut like knives, even when cloaked in sweet, conditional phrases. Feedback is received as a gift when it’s delivered with the clear intention to help the person recognize and realize more of his or her potential. Knife or gift, it’s all in the intention.

People can’t make choices they’re not aware of. After two decades of professional coaching I can confidently say that people are almost always unaware of the full impact of their most annoying and challenging behaviors. Whatever people are doing, it makes perfect sense to them, and is their best attempt to attain outcomes that are meaningful to them. Well-delivered feedback enables people to understand the unintended consequences of their behaviors and illuminates choices for doing things differently, in ways that are meaningful to them—and more productive for everyone involved. Compassion for the good intentions behind the “bad” behavior is the key to delivering feedback that invites change.

Feedback “bombs” do more damage than good. Too often feedback is delivered like a bomb. “Here’s your problem, now fix it. Goodbye and good luck.” Delivering feedback without coaching someone on how to do things differently leaves people confused and disempowered. It’s like telling a kid she’s holding the bat the wrong way, but not helping her find a grip that works for her. It’s discouraging, and not particularly helpful. Coaching catalyzes feedback’s power to create change. Feedback and coaching are a dynamic duo that work together to ignite insight and help people translate those insights into meaningful actions.

Learning is the lifeblood of change. Have you ever learned anything of lasting value without getting feedback on your performance? Not likely. Change requires learning and learning requires feedback. It’s not a one-and-done situation. Continuous learning requires consistent appreciative and developmental feedback. If you want to orchestrate positive productive change, feedback that engages people to try on new ways of doing things is one of your most powerful tools. Encourage people to think of feedback as an invitation to help others continuously expand and grow.

Getting your organization to rethink the value of feedback and tuning up people’s ability to deliver insightful feedback that lands as the gift it’s intended to be will release a flood of pent up potential in your organization. Potential that can be channeled to address the most pressing challenges and explore the richest opportunities.

Let us help you to unleash the positive potential of feedback in your organization with our new one-day workshop, Feedback in the Moment™. Call or email today and we’ll give you an overview of this lively, eye-opening learning experience that builds on the learning from our Coaching in the Moment® workshop. Contact Dianna Anderson at 515.727.4200 or dianna@cylient.com.

Dianna Anderson, MCC
CEO, Cylient

Join the Conversation

Imagine what would be different if people at all levels of your organization consistently offered the gift of insightful feedback as a way of life. What benefits do you believe your organization would realize as a result?

One Response to Tap the Power of Feedback to Release Potential

  1. Rossana Johnston says:

    Excellent piece. So true!! Everyone talks about feedback but few of us have the skills to deliver it effectively! Can’t wait to learn and build these skills!!

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