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In a coaching assignment, you can’t just tell some one to change what has become a way of life for them. The aggressive person will not easily accept that he/she is aggressive just as the unassertive person will not like to accept that others find them easy to manipulate.

To make them reflect and understand that they have this drawback and how their behaviour is affecting others- and thereby themselves – adversely, we need to use a lot of feedback data to create awareness.

Formal feedback through the performance evaluation process is, of course, a major input. This is supplemented with our own observations and points gathered through discussions with their peers, team members, and their supervisors. Often a lot of data come out of what we pick up in informal settings like around the water cooler or at the company cafeteria.

It is very useful too to collect perceptions about the individual from key players outside the organisation . These could be important bankers, key customers, major suppliers or global partners depending on the job function of the person being coached. After all they are important stakeholders.

The feedback data that is gathered falls into these 4 categories:-

  1. Feedback that is positive and expected: Clearly the executive has some strengths and people around him praise his work. Knowing that these have always been positives make the feedback quite expected.
  2. Feedback that is positive and unexpected: Some people offer praise grudgingly. The supplier may be reluctant to admit it but he may acknowledge the superior negotiating skills of the executive. This feedback is unexpected.
  3. Feedback that is negative and expected: Just as we know our strengths, we also know our areas for improvement. It is not difficult for an executive to accept feedback in these areas since they are well known. “Everyone must have spoken of my short temper” said the executive the other day”I know I tend to be short tempered but I am trying to improve”.
  4. Feedback that is negative and unexpected: This is the toughest to accept because the person being coached does not recognize that people could perceive him in such a manner. “I am shocked they are saying I lack innovation” said the executive “I have always felt I am looking for new ways to do things and am very open minded”.

Data and examples make it easier to bring issues to the fore. They make the person more accepting of the feedback. Needless to say, for it to be effective, the data we use should be authentic and real.

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This is the 105 th of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.