From Colleague to Coach: Revamping Feedback Culture

When scrolling through online reviews, you’ll usually notice a polarized dichotomy; they’re either glowingly positive or an angry rant. The feedback that Amazon sellers and chain restaurants receive tends to be based on one experience that resulted in a strong opinion, and workplace feedback is all too similar. Instead of providing an evaluation to help each other improve, professional feedback usually comes across as either positive or negative with little room for growth.

Carolyn Mooney, owner and coach of the self-improvement consulting enterprise Enough, LLC, wants to change that. At GovLoop’s 2019 NextGen Government Training Summit, Mooney explained that once workplaces start restructuring their feedback model toward constructive comments, instead of negativity, it can start to feel less like infighting and more like mentoring.

“You have to create a coaching culture within your work environment where you are giving constant feedback all the time,” she said.

To shift to a coaching culture, Mooney provided the E.N.O.U.G.H. model as a guide to giving and receiving the most impactful feedback.

Engage

Engaging with employees should not just happen at annual performance reviews. Instead, make a conscious effort to coach employees all year long to provide an accessible road of communication and try asking open-ended questions to help employees understand themselves better. Ask about the challenges they’re facing, issues on their mind and what they want from their careers.

Notice Baggage

Recognize what struggles your employees carry with them every day to understand how it affects the feedback they give and receive. It sounds simple but getting to know the staff in this way can help create a culture of support.

Outline What Will Be Discussed

When giving feedback, providing a framework to keep the conversation on track lets the other person know ahead of time where the conversation is going. This outline provides expectations for the conversation so that the other party is not caught off guard.

Uncover Obstacles

A part of giving feedback is helping the employee understand what obstacle is standing in their way. Do not try to come up with answers before you fully understand the exact challenges that the employee is facing. Then, help them devise a plan to overcome that challenge by devising solutions.

Goals

Setting goals helps both parties understand what’s expected from them. Mooney recommends ensuring that the goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (S.M.A.R.T.) to make sure that they can be met reasonably.

Help

After giving feedback, ensure that your team knows you’re available to help them improve and reach their goals. The previous steps should help you devise a plan for providing this assistance, but it’s important to clarify the plan with your staff to assist them with understanding the process.

Creating a coaching culture improves employee morale beyond better feedback. The culture shift can improve employee engagement, empowerment, productivity, career development and connection to transform your entire agency. Ultimately, the coaching culture revolves around genuinely embracing improvement for yourself and your colleagues.

“If your statements aren’t to make somebody better, reevaluate your statements,” Mooney said.