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Ditch the Feedback, Inspire Coaching

It's tempting to fall into the trap of constantly offering feedback to your team. But here's the truth: no one wants your unsolicited feedback. In fact, it may be terrorizing your team members. Neuroscience has shown that when you ask someone for if they are open to feedback, it triggers the same part of their brain that hearing footsteps in the dark does. 

That is powerful and means we can’t blame people for not wanting feedback. At the same time, we can’t afford not to help them grow…which will require feedback, right? The answer lies in distinguishing between feedback and coaching.

Feedback, by its very nature, is rooted in the past and focuses on what someone has already done. When you offer unsolicited feedback, you risk triggering a fight-or-flight response that hinders your team's ability to process and internalize your message effectively (see additional resources for more on this).

So, if feedback isn't the answer, what is? The key lies in coaching – a future-focused, possibility-driven approach that empowers your team to find their own solutions. But here's the catch: coaching is only coaching when it’s asked for. Meaning, if they aren’t asking for it, they are not open to hearing the insights and help you have for them. Coaching must be sought out.

To inspire your team to actively seek your coaching, you need to:

  1. Model coachability yourself: this is going to seem overly simplistic, but if you aren’t asking others for coaching…they won’t either. If you want asking for help and input to be norm, you have to ask for it. As with most things in leadership, it starts with you. 

  2. Create a culture of continuous learning and growth: unconsciously every human seeks comfort and therefore, our work cultures will always have to fight the gravity of comfort. However, growth and learning will always feel uncomfortable to varying degrees. Thus, requires your teams individual commitment to their own growth. They need to know where they want to grow and put it out there for you as a team to support. 

  3. Build trust and rapport with your team: go out of your way to make known your love for and commitment to your team. Your goal isn’t for them to hear your “feedback,” your goal is to help them grow and reach more of their penitential. If that is your goal, coaching provides the pathway, but it is rooted in your stated commitment to help them grow. When they know you have their best in mind, coaching becomes a byproduct of that relationship. 

When your team feels seen, heard, and valued, they'll be more open to your coaching. As you embark on this coaching journey, keep the SCARF Model (click that link if you're not familar with the SCARF Model and see additional resources below) in mind to ensure you're not inadvertently threatening your team members' sense of status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, or fairness.

Inspiring a desire for coaching is about shifting your mindset from fixing past mistakes to unlocking future potential. It's about creating a culture of growth, trust, and empowerment. And it starts with you – the leader who models coachability, celebrates effort, and genuinely cares about their team's success.

Ditch the feedback and embrace the power of coaching. Your team will thank you for it, and you'll be amazed at the transformation that unfolds when people feel truly supported and believed in. Remember, leadership isn't about having all the answers; it's about inspiring others to find their own path to greatness.


Additional Resources: 


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