One of the inclusions in our coaching program is to present clients with a feedback report that helps them better understand the perceptions people hold of their leadership approach. The process involves interviewing by phone up to 12 supervisors, peers and direct reports – asking about: specific strengths, opportunities for improvement, communication style, what the client should keep doing and what to stop doing.
Before handing clients their report, I ask them to consider it a gift… the opportunity to learn things they may never have read before. I say: “You asked people to offer their thoughts and they graciously took the time to provide candid comments.” I do this because the experience of receiving feedback elicits a lot of surprise reactions and emotions, ranging from ‘Wow, that’s great. No one ever told me how positively that impacts them’ to “Oh, I had no idea when I do that it’s so disruptive to the team.”
I also remind clients not to focus too much on a single comment, and instead to look for patterns in areas they want to keep doing (‘Affirmation’) or change (‘Redirection’). About a week after the session, I follow up with a phone call to see what specific items are resonating with clients and introduce a template to create their development plans. Once completed and shared with their supervisor, that document becomes the guiding light for our ongoing coaching work together.
The experience of receiving feedback takes an open mind and commitment to do something with the information. For those willing to step out of their comfort zones, build on strengths and change areas that are limiting their success, it can be a career-advancing journey.