The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 5:31 pm

Evaluation, coaching, appreciation are critical leadership skills

Lisa Green | The Journal Gazette

People struggle with feedback conversations, but they are critical for several reasons.

They drive organizations and enable or disable collaboration, according to Sheila Heen, who co-authored "Thanks for the Feedback," a New York Times best seller published last year that is still getting attention.

Probably most important for leaders is that the conversations allow them to get the best out of those they oversee. Leaders have to be open to feedback as well, though, so that the people they work with can get the best out of them.

Heen, a Harvard lecturer who did a session this year's Global Leadership Summit, said basic human needs include a desire to learn and grow, but also to feel accepted, respected "and loved the way we are now."

That can make feedback, which often implies something needs to change, tricky. But there are different types of feedback Heen said leaders can and should give.

* Evaluation: This rates or ranks people against peers and can answer questions about the future by providing insight on where individuals stand.

* Coaching: This involves anything that helps people get better.

* Appreciation: This says "I see you" and is usually an important motivator.

Heen says you can't "tangle evaluation and coaching," though. The process of evaluation -- if it's not well thought out and delivered -- can trigger emotions and drown out eventual coaching efforts.

Appreciation often dictates whether or not people stay with an organization.

Heen says people can always find something wrong with feedback -- maybe even 90 percent of it. It's the 10 percent, though, that can help us learn and grow.

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