More Thoughts on Appreciative Coaching

Last time, I wrote about appreciate coaching and how it’s more effective for people to improve and learn. Well, this past week, quite by accident, I stumbled upon an article from the Harvard Business Review entitled “Why Feedback Fails.” In studying how people learn, thrive, and excel, they point to three core evidence-based learning theory tenets:

1.       Telling people what we think of their performance doesn’t help them thrive and excel, and telling people how we think they should improve actually hinders learning;

2.       Humans are highly unreliable raters of other humans. The feedback you give is more about you than the person receiving feedback;

3.       The only realm in which humans are an unimpeachable source of truth is that of their own feelings and experiences.

People tend to perform better by being given goals and results to achieve, when they receive positive feedback about what they are doing well, and by watching other people excel and receive validation for their excellence. The article went so far as to give examples on how to more effectively communicate with teams to elicit these principles:

Instead of:                                                            Try:

Can I give you some feedback?Here’s my reaction
Good job!Here are three things that really worked for me. What was going through your mind when you did them?
Here’s what you should doHere’s what I would do
Here’s where you need to improveHere’s what worked best for me and why
That didn’t really workWhen you did (x) I felt (y)  -or- That didn’t really work for me
You need to improve your communication skillsHere’s exactly where you started to lose me
You need to be more responsiveWhen I don’t hear from you, I worry we’re not on the same page
You lack strategic thinkingI’m struggling to understand your plan
You should do ____   (in response to being asked for advice)What do you feel you’re struggling with and what have you done in a similar situation? 

You might find that you’ve done a few things in the left column. That’s okay. We all have. But now we know better. Modelling and recognizing excellence is more effective in helping teams provide excellent care, everytime.

Reference: Marcus Buckingdall and Ashley Goodall. “The Feedback Fallacy.” Harvard Business Review, March-April 2019 edition.

Author: Kate Kalthoff

It's simple: leave people, places, and things better than I found them. For more than 20 years, Katherine Kalthoff has been working to improve the way healthcare organizations connect with the people they serve. She began her career at Gift of Hope, the organ procurement organization for Illinois, approaching families and securing their consent to donate a loved one’s organs for transplant. Through compassionate, empathetic listening, Kate led the Family Services team to one of the highest consent rates in the country. From there, Kate went to Advocate Health Care, Illinois’s largest healthcare system, as a Physician Relations and Business Development Manager, improving physician satisfaction and strengthening the relationships of both the employed and independent physicians with the system as a whole. Just prior to joining Northwest Community Healthcare as the Patient Experience Officer, Kate was the first Manager of Patient Experience at DuPage Medical Group where she built a platform of organization-wide service excellence through her inspiring brand of education, training, and one-on-one coaching. A much sought-after speaker and trainer, Kate has a very simple approach to her work: leave people, places and things better than you found them.

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