Feedback ProblemsMany leaders find courageous conversations to give corrective or redirecting feedback very difficult. Emotions can get in the way, perceptions of the issue can differ widely, relationships may be damaged, and reactions can be volatile. Leaders may be scarred from past conversations where they gave or received tough feedback in a poorly structured and awkwardly delivered conversation that didn’t end well.

With all the focus we’ve put on coaching and feedback skills this year, Zenger Folkman’s research continues to uncover powerful and practical new insights. In their latest Harvard Business Review blog, The Assumptions that Make Giving Tough Feedback Even Tougher, Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman found two underlying assumptions that make giving feedback much harder than it needs to be:

  1. People Don’t Realize There is a Problem — in fact, a ZF study showed that 74% of people knew they had a problem and were not surprised by the feedback.
  2. It’s Best to Get it Over With Quickly — this mistaken idea of a quick reprimand often contributes to what’s been cynically called “Seagull Management” — the manager swoops down, squawks and craps, and flies away. This chart shows just how misguided the “let’s get this over quickly” assumption really is. This comes from a ZF global study of how well managers listened to the other person’s side of the issue and how effective the feedback was rated to be.

Coaching and developing others is a critical leadership skill. Feedback is a core coaching skill. That’s why Zenger Folkman’s 2015 Extraordinary Leadership Summit and Coaching Symposium July 21 – 23 in Salt Lake City features a coaching track. Jack, Joe, me, Brad Smith, and our other Zenger Folkman colleagues look forward to seeing you there.