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Coaching - 24 September 2015

Nothing makes a leader’s job easier than to coach an employee who loves to be coached.  It’s known as feedback-seeking behaviour, and it represents people who genuinely want to receive meaningful feedback on how they’re going.  The question for you is this: How can you cultivate this kind of mentality within your team?

The answer to that question can be found in a new analysis published in the Journal of Management.  Five scholars from the Universities of Minnesota and Ghent reviewed every credible study conducted over the past 25 years on feedback-seeking behaviour.  They critically assessed each one of them, resulting in the following discoveries on what makes employees more likely to embrace feedback and, more importantly, to actively ask for it.

Cost versus value: 

If employees feel as though they’d derive more value than cost from seeking feedback, they’ll do it.  ‘Value’ includes things like recognition, support, tactfulness, and helpful advice.  ‘Cost’ includes things like punishment, humiliation, frustration, and rejection.

The source of the feedback: 

There are three qualities you need for employees to welcome what you have to say.  The first is expertise – your credibility in being a reliable source of knowledge.  The second is trust – the degree to which you make it safe for people to speak up, to experiment and to challenge assumptions.  The third is relationships – because the closer your connection with your employees, the more comfortable they’ll be in seeking your thoughts.

Negative feedback:

This was the most surprising finding in the study.  Basically, when employees hear their performance has been below standard or poor, most of them are actually then inclined to continue seeking feedback in the hope they rectify what went wrong.  In effect, the giving of feedback generates the seeking of feedback in a mutually beneficial cycle. 

The problem, though, is that many leaders refrain from giving negative (or constructive) feedback because they’re afraid of having difficult conversations, which is really the antithesis of what coaching (and leadership) is all about.


To download complimentary e-books on employee engagement, retention, and recruitment (valued at over $100), please click here.

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