I had an introductory call with a coaching client and I heard her say several times, “I get a lot of feedback at work so I’m not sure why or how much coaching I need.”
It’s not uncommon to think that these two things are the same. But they aren’t. At the time, however, I didn’t know how to best explain the differences to her. So, I decided to do some research and here’s what I learned.
Feedback is performance related. It is most often used to correct a behavior so that it doesn’t happen again. It is based in the past.
Coaching is development related. It is used to help the person who is being coached grow and determine future behaviors to achieve success.
Feedback is delivered. It is given TO someone. This is usually done via one-way communication.
Coaching is collaborative. It is done together through two-way communication.
I advocate that both are necessary for the workplace.
Doing them effectively is what needs to be improved.
The two key factors are the approach and the transparency of the two parties. When done in the workplace, it is vital that the leader (i.e. the manager) use their best people skills in setting up the conversation and the follow-up afterward. Depending on the level of experience of the leader, it may be helpful to have an impartial third-party present to support the process initially. Transparency is key, especially about the presence of a third-party. Being clear in your communication with the employee is necessary.
Feedback is best delivered when it is specific and can accurately describe a situation, a behavior, and an impact. It is used for someone’s improvement for the company.
Coaching is best when the person being coached is self-motivated to take their skills and behaviors to the next level, both for their own growth but also for the growth of the company.
As a leader, you need to provide both to your employees. Separately. That’s how you will create the greatest impact in your people and your company.