Continuing our let’s-define-terms trend from yesterday’s post (see Evaluative and Developmental Feedback), let’s take a look at the difference between coaching and feedback. Mary Jo Asmus, in the aptly-named Coaching vs. Feedback, gives an interesting definition and explains why they’re not the same.
She defines coaching as:
- Focused on future behavior
- Inquiry oriented
- Used to help the better performers move ahead by releasing potential in a way that works best for the individual AND the organization
and feedback as:
- Focused on past behavior
- “Telling” or “Advice” oriented
- Often used to help poor performers change behavior in a prescribed direction in a way that works best for the organization
Developmental Feedback is a combination of Mary’s definitions of coaching and feedback. Helpful feedback doesn’t simply focus on your past and inform you of what you did poorly or well, it offers suggestions as to how to improve. It’s focused on the future.
Rather than looking retroactively, it looks to the future. It emphasizes what “we” (the coach and the person being coached) can do to improve on the past and build needed skills and competencies for the organization as well as for the receiver’s career.
Coaches, managers, mentors, should encourage both low and high performers to seek developmental feedback. High performers are not perfect and, like everyone else, they have areas they can improve. However, unlike everyone else, high performers are continuously seeking ways to do better. In fact, that’s one of the reasons they’re high performers. Just because someone is a high performer does not mean that they do not require advice or guidance every so often.