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Coaching Instead of Criticising Employees


One of the cornerstones of good leadership development programs is teaching leaders how to coach instead of criticise. For many leaders, giving feedback to employees is an unpleasant task. Consequently, many avoid it altogether.

The reason is that many people associate negative feedback with confrontation. Many people struggle with accepting or offering negative feedback in a positive, non-threatening way. Ironically, many of us are able to give and receive constructive criticism in every aspect of life and we are often grateful for it–except work.

Sports is probably the greatest example of the ability to both give and receive constructive criticism. A golfer who is struggling will often solicit feedback from professionals or even fellow golfers about what he or she is doing wrong. For some reason, we don’t perceive a “swing tip” as threatening or negative, but we respond to it immediately–and are grateful.

Whether or not a leader has ever participated in a sport, leaders can learn a lot about coaching by understanding sport coaching. We would like to offer three techniques that can help you be a coach instead of a critic in the workplace.

A well-defined goal

In sports, the goal is to win or at least to play better. The desire to win or be better in sports is so strong that the person being coached is able to subjugate his or her ego long enough to accept coaching. In fact, many athletes are more resentful when they don’t get coaching than they are when they do.

The best way to get employees to accept coaching is to set a firm goal that benefits both the individual and the company. Simply coach in the spirit of helping them reach their goals.

Make feedback an integral part of the work experience

Simply setting up a protocol or an expectation that the employee will receive feedback on a regular basis turns it as part of the routine; the employee becomes more open and accepting of it since it is considered routinary.

Always mention a goal

A great way to start a small feedback session would be something like, “Michael, I have a suggestion that might take you closer to your goal of (insert goal).”

Coaching is more effective than criticism. Call (08) 9242 8122 today for more information.

Antonia Clissa

Antonia's has a background in senior management, health, and psychotherapy/counselling with a wide range of experience working with diversity including cultural, linguistic and gender issues in the government and not for profit sector.

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