Most organizations agree that coaching is important, but they do virtually nothing to make employees more receptive to coaching. Moreover, misperceptions about how someone will respond to coaching shuts down a lot of valuable conversations before they’ve even begun. People working in these companies pay a high price. Many develop blind spots, not realizing the seriousness of an underlying performance issue. Keeping up a personal practice of being coachable allows you to stay in touch with your impact on others.
A person who is coachable not only responds well when given feedback, they ask for feedback. They view the input from others as a valuable tool in their development. They also are willing to take actions and make personal changes based on the feedback.
Here are our specific suggestions for conveying to others your receptiveness to coaching and to practice being more coachable.
1. Ask for feedback. The single most powerful thing you can do is to sincerely ask for feedback from your colleagues, especially your boss. It can be as simple as asking, “Give me one suggestion for what I could do to be more effective in my job.” The important step is to the open the door to feedback.
2. Ensure you understand the feedback. Be sure you understand the seriousness or importance of this message. It could be a casual suggestion, or it could be something that is career limiting. Make certain you know which. If you’re uncertain about the exact meaning of the feedback, seek examples that will illustrate the message.
3. Thank the giver of feedback and confirm your desire for more. Your response to feedback will determine whether this will be the first of many doses of helpful information, or whether it will be the last you’ll ever receive.
4. Request suggestions on how to improve. The giver of feedback may have some useful ideas about how to improve, change your manner, or start doing something that would make you even more effective.
5. Welcome tough or unexpected feedback. Develop a thick skin that accepts such feedback as a learning opportunity, not a personal attack.
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