Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Calling all leaders! You can not develop talent without candid feedback and coaching.

An anonymous but wise individual once said, "Good management is not only the gift of identifying talent, but the art of selective recognition of strengths and weaknesses, and the proper encouragement of the best in any man or woman."

One of the stories in our book is Spend More Time with Your Stars, Not Your Duds. This entire post is about the time you spend with your stars. You can help them develop and be even better then they thought possible, if you give them candid feedback and coaching.

Let's start with the feedback:
  • Feedback must be VERY candid and honest. Do not sugar coat. Be straight forward.
  • Feedback should be timely. On your way back from the sales call, not 3 months later.
  • Informal and formal feedback are both required and should be consistent.
  • Tell them what YOU think, don't pass the buck by saying this is what others are saying.
  • Be specific. 'You were great' is just as useless as 'you were awful'. Instead, you were great can be followed by- when you answered the client's question because you were confident and spelled out the three things we would do for them that was different from our competitor. 'You were awful' can be followed by, 'I was so surprised when you hesitated when the client asked that question. You knew the answers, why were you so hesitant? It made us seem unsure of our action plan'.
  • Provide positive feedback as well as constructive criticisms
Now, let's move on to coaching:

The best feedback still needs to be backed up by coaching. So now, I know what I did wrong but how can I fix it? Or, thanks for the positive feedback. How can my strengths be leveraged for even better results? How can I advance my career?
  • Candidness is required here as well. What do they need to do to improve? How can they leverage their strengths to continue to succeed? What else do they need in their skills portfolio to achieve their goals?
  • Make sure you know what are THEIR goals- not yours projected on to them.
  • Make a specific plan of action
  • What are you as the leader willing to do to help?
There is an article on the subject How to Provide Feedback That Has an Impact.

Leaders need to provide candid feedback and coaching to ALL employees.

Leaders need to provide more feedback and coaching to their stars. The ROI is better then when done with under performers.

Now, why is this especially true for women as the title of this post asserts? In my experience, this is often one of the unintentional disservices done to women in business. The feedback is sugar coated. The coaching is often superficial.

Over the years, when I was the leader reviewing the overall ratings and promotion recommendations, I noticed that sometimes the verbal comments I was told did not coincide with the written evaluations. The written was more positive then the verbal. As I asked more questions and eventually asked why didn't you tell them that, the answer was "I didn't want to be too hard on them". I also noted that while not done exclusively to women it was done more often to them.

On coaching I noticed that too often the women were not given some of the casual and informal feedback that the men were given simply because they were not driving to and from the golf course or softball field together. Again, not a plot against women, but still unfortunate.

So we need candid feedback and quality coaching for all employees. If my experience is indicative of the business world, then we need to be even more careful to make sure we do this for the women on our teams.

What can we all do?

Be great leaders and give candid feedback and coaching to all your employees.

Women, demand candid feedback and coaching! Keep pushing until you get it. Tell your boss you can handle it and want to hear every little thing and then, act on the feedback.

Until next time,

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