How to Give Great Coach Feedback

Coaching isn't meant to be perfect. It's meant to be practice. To improve this practice, feedback is critical to coaches. When in situations where feedback will be given, it is important for everyone to know the goals and expectations of the exercise. Find ways to keep feedback 2-way. You'll want it to become the best superuser.  

Whether feedback gets delivered formally or informally, here are some tips to follow.   

Start by understanding coaching strengths.

Feedback should build on your coaches' existing values and strengths. Before delivering any feedback, consider getting to know your coaches individually. In addition to developing general rapport, explore the following questions as a start in understanding your coaches practice:

(1) What are your values as a coach? Why Coaching?

(2) What works for your coaching practice right now? What doesn't work so well?

(3) When do you enjoy your job the most? 

(4) What's most important to you when it comes to your coaching practice?

You might find that short-term professional goals emerge from conversations like these. If you find this process useful, consider meeting with your coaches once per quarter, checking in and supporting their goals for continued success. Consider using Twine's self-evaluation and other performance tools to guide these conversations against the organization's definitions of ideal coaching performance. 

Create a level playing field.

Try to be as specific and timely as you can when delivering feedback. Hold coaches accountable, but be fair. Coaches should feel motivated by your words, not angry and defeated! You have positive regard for you coaches. Let your feedback show it. Here is a generally recognized format to deliver great coach feedback: 

1. Don't jump the gun! Ask for permission. "Do you have a minute?"

2. State simply what you observed. "I notice when patient's say they 'can't' you avoid probing them more about it."

3. State the impact of what you observed. "As a result, health action cards aren't being built in Twine, which is impacting engagement."

4. Let the coach respond. Coach: "Maybe I don't probe them enough. But I think I am being patient-centered when I listen to their words. If they say they can't. They can't."

5. Suggest next steps. "It can be hard to tell if they're closing the door or showing normal resistance to change. The next time you observe a patient saying 'I can't,' test out this theory. What's a question you could ask to try and reframe the idea of 'I can't' with your patients?"

6. Caught doin' good. Just as often as you see things that can improve, notice things that are going well that you'd like your coaches to continue! Be generous in pointing out good work. The feedback method modeled above can be used in follow up with initial feedback or to call out your observations of quality coaching practice. For example, we could have taken the example above in an entirely different direction in a few weeks' time: "I notice you are really pushing your patients to explore change a bit more when they say 'I can't'. It seems like the quality of your Health Action Cards looks really great as a result. I bet that motivates you to keep pushing your patients!"

Feedback and Feedforward:

Giving feedback teaches your coaches how to improve on what they have already done. This is a useful process, but limits your conversations to the past. Following "Feedforward" methods gets your coaches to think about new opportunities to improve their practice for the future. Move your coaches toward the professional goals that are meaningful to them. Start with this question: "How do you want to develop your practice in the future?" From there, proactively work with your coaches toward their professional goals. For ideas to guide professional goal setting, we like to consider the recognized abilities of health coaches for ideas to get started.




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