Deepening Your Feedback Culture

Mindset Shifts Drive Coachability.

By The Coachability Consultants Team

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Let’s turn our attention to ways we can deepen our commitment to giving and receiving effective feedback in our teams and programs. After all, these are critical components of being highly coachable. We have written before about how crucial feedback is to an individual’s development. This is true on our teams whether it’s in a front office, on the court, or on the field of play.  

A recent Gallup article stated: “Although leaders may fear being micromanagers, most employees receive far too little feedback — and even those who receive negative feedback would prefer to get more.”

People want feedback. But too often, they are simply waiting to receive it.

In the excellent book Thanks for the Feedback, the authors argue that we are actually awash in feedback. It’s all around us all the time.  They expand the definition of feedback beyond just what your boss or coach is saying, but that makes sense, right? Especially if we agree that feedback is information. We have these two disparate paradoxical insights we have too much and too little feedback all at the same time.  Perhaps what we all want is better information. 

Let’s pause there. We could easily turn this into a “how to give better feedback” article. But, that would miss an essential part of building a coachability culture. A key to receiving quality feedback is actually knowing how to ask for it, or seek it out from multiple sources, so that you are better prepared to hear it and make use of it. Instead of focusing on the quantity of feedback, let’s focus on the quality and teach our athletes to be active partners in getting the feedback they need. From our research and training impact assessments, we know this can be trained; in a future article, we will detail some of the steps to doing so.

At Coachability Consultants, we train coaches and teams on these very skills. By following our model, you can cut down on some of the uncertainty that can arise with feedback and turn it into a powerful tool to accelerate your team’s growth, culture, and overall performance/results. As we train athletes to ask for and make use of feedback, we also create a culture in which these conversations can happen peer-to-peer and not just from the top down. It gets easier for athletes to help one another, and also to hold each other accountable to the standards that are in play for a program.

It’s essential that, as coaches, we also model the ability to ask and listen to feedback. We can do this with our athletes, and we can also relay to them our ongoing process of development with our own mentors and peers. Remember when we reference feedback here we are thinking of a wide array of sources of feedback. We will look further at that in this article. In addition, we are talking about the constructive feedback essential for growth. We define constructive feedback as the detailed, specific information geared toward advancement. This feedback is also delivered with positive or compassionate intent. 

Now let’s turn to the factors that are essential to deepen the feedback culture.

Mindset Matters

By now, many people have been introduced to the work by Carol Dweck about the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. She has written extensively on the topic, including her book Mindset, and has even updated her work to include the false growth mindset concept. 

As a result of this body of work, when we use the word mindset, people start to think about that specific paradigm. But what we are referring to is a bit different. We are simply discussing shifts in your point of view about development. Developing your understanding of coachability requires some mindset shifts.

Mindset Shifts

One mindset shift, as we’ve discussed in previous articles, is to recognize that athletes and individuals own a large share of responsibility for their development. The mindset shift requires us, as leaders, to create an environment that supports being coachable (seeking, hearing and internalizing, and acting on constructive feedback) and to train and develop the skills athletes need to thrive. Yes, each of theseseeking, hearing and acting on information is a skill that can be taught and improved. Training these skills will prompt athletes to embrace the idea themselves– that they play a significant role in their developmental path and specifically, will prompt them to recognize the importance of asking for and accepting feedback from multiple sources.

Other shifts occur as well. For instance, most people believe they are more coachable than their boss or coach thinks they are. In a recent study, 70% of employees thought they were more coachable than their managers did. 70%! (That could be you or me.) Recognizing and simply bringing awareness to this statistic allows us to become humbler and to open up to learning about how to ask, accept and act on constructive information. Finally, by the way, we do speak about the importance of having a growth mindset for athletes — and coaches, too.

Motives

When thinking about our culture and trying to center feedback within it, we also want to bring awareness to our own and our athletes’ motivations when seeking feedback. Yes, there are multiple motivations. 

Understanding motives for seeking feedback is critical as it also impacts how effectively an athlete internalizes and accepts feedback. The three motives to consider when asking for, or seeking, feedback: ego, image, and informational (i.e., instrumental).

Research indicates all of these motives are used when seeking feedback. And, all have a place in our development. However, highly coachable athletes who are interested in continuous improvement employ an informational motive when they ask for feedback. They may also enjoy the benefits of looking or feeling good, but what they really want is information they can use to grow and get better every day. 

If your motive is simply to feel or look good you may find that you are not open to hearing and acting on the constructive, actionable information provided. Rather, you may be more likely to discount the information provided because it doesn’t fully align with your initial intent or motive. By making our athletes aware of these motives, we can help them to see the value in employing the informational motive as much as possible. 

This may take practice. As it does for each of us when we find ourselves seeking feedback after a presentation, from our bosses or even from our athletes themselves. Bringing attention to these mindsets and motives deepens the feedback culture we are building by training our athletes to ask for, accept and analyze a steady diet of information from different source

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