“Sometimes you’re not even sure which of your stories were failures. There are things I’ve written that I thought were complete catastrophes when I finished with them that have gone on to generate some of my most positive feedback.”
– Len Wein, Co-creator of DC Comics’ Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics’ Wolverine
I recently facilitated a close out coaching engagement with an executive client, her supervisor, and human resource partner. What impressed me was that my client demonstrated strong leadership presence during a tough situation by remaining grounded and calm as she received a storm of negative feedback from her supervisor.
Unfortunately, with the exception of one other time, this meeting was the only time she received clear feedback, which mostly highlighted what she wasn’t doing well. Which was surprising, given how well intended her supervisors were, how dedicated my client was to her leadership development/coaching, and how much progress she made throughout the engagement.
While my client was committed to doing what was best for the organization (often putting in long days to meet deadlines) and developing her leadership skills, she did not receive the necessary feedback along the way to achieve a successful outcome. On several occasions throughout the engagement we asked for more clarity and feedback, but unfortunately, were not successful. She often felt demotivated and burnt-out. Not a great ROI.
As clients try out new skills and behaviors, they need consistent feedback about what they are doing well and where they need support. Think of it as “a reality check” because everything they’re trying out is new and does not yet feel comfortable.
There’s a philosophy that feedback, on the aggregate, should be delivered consistently and with a 4 positive to 1 constructive ratio. This helps the brain process what needs to be done and keeps individuals open to learning, more motivated, able to perform better, and ultimately achieve better results for the company.
Here’s an interesting article that may provide more insight: You’re Awesome! Firms Scrap Negative Feedback