This morning I had an interesting email exchange with a client. He sent me an email from his company announcing a new coaching course for leaders. He thought it was ridiculous, long winded and fluffy and that no one really cared or believed in it.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with a senior MD several years ago when I was extolling the virtues of providing good quality feedback in managing employee performance. His reply … “I get all the feedback I need from the number of 0’s at the end of my bonus check”. And while I was a taken aback initially, I realised he had a good point. All the feedback in the world is only as good as the actions that back it up. If the systems and processes in an organisation don’t back up and support the behaviours we believe are needed to build a strong and profitable business, then all we’re doing is talking. In essence, we can tell people anything we want, but when the words and the actions are incongruous, actions will always win. That MD’s bonus check told him he was doing a good job. Even if he was a tryant and verbally bludgeoned his people. And even more so, everytime he blasted one of his people, he was telling them that was the way to succeed in that organisation.So much for building a coaching culture.
Yes, feedback is a good thing, we need to understand what we need to do differently in order to make changes and succeed. But more than that, we need to see that what we’re being told is valued and will indeed make a difference to our success. As for coaching and feedback, yes, I believe it is a powerful tool in a manager’s toolkit and it can have a huge impact on performance – if it is truly valued by the organisation.
So if we really believe that coaching or feedback or performance management or anything is a good thing, then we need to role model it. We need to demonstrate that we think it’s important for the business by doing it, not just talking about it. That’s a big ask in a large organisation, but it can be done – one person at a time, starting from the top. It will take time and a determined focus. We may have to overcome lots of setbacks, but it is achievable. And it starts when we do what we say ….