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We are often afraid to seek feedback. It is a normal human reaction.  It may hurt or make us reflect negatively. But if we are receptive to learning and developing, then feedback (whether in our work or in our personal lives) helps us to grow. One of the tools I encourage and use in my coaching – particularly for teams – is the simple 360 review. It normally involves me speaking to 6-8 colleagues and asking each of them, in total confidence, what the coachee is good at; not so good at; what they should stop doing and what they should start doing? It is completely anonymous and although it takes courage from the coachee to say ‘yes’ to it, it is a rich source of feedback. The people providing the feedback recognise this and invariably offer their input constructively. They mean well because they see the benefits of a more effective team member. I also recommend a meeting to discuss the feedback, or key elements of it, with the coachee and their leader, so that they can shape a path forward together.

Celia* is a very accomplished anaesthetist in the NHS but what became clear as the coaching progressed was her unpredictability. She could change jobs or roles at a whim and found it difficult to settle in any relationship. In our discussions I introduced her to the Closeness Index1. It became apparent that Celia had a lot of ‘friends’, but none were really close. She identified people in her life – whether colleague/friend/partner (even the dog and her fitness coach) and then, using a scale of 1-10, mapped them according to actual and desired proximity. The results were revealing, showing that people who should be close to her were not. She acknowledged she was holding people back and holding herself back.

We realised that she found it difficult to be vulnerable (to show her true herself) and to establish trust. Interestingly a key to being trusted and to trusting is to show our vulnerability.

Her colleagues didn’t understand her. She didn’t attend work social events as she was afraid she would be left on her own. In the 360 feedback she was described as a very accomplished physician, but her colleagues, didn’t know ‘which’ Celia they were getting from one day to the next. They did not trust her because they didn’t understand her. While the 360 feedback was given constructively, it was tough feedback for Celia. She had to reflect on her unreliability, her outspokenness, her over-use of social media and occasions where she embarrassed herself. She had an overriding feeling of being victimised and a sense of being isolated and without friends.

This is where the coaching really kicked in. Now that we had the issues on the table, we could pursue: ‘Why?’  What had happened in her life to make her the stellar clinician she was, but broken in other ways?

The coaching is ongoing. Celia is very engaged in the coaching process and is already being viewed as a more valued colleague…

*not her real name

Leadership Coaching and Development | Game-changing Behaviours and Impact | Adaptability | Resilience | Non-Executive Director | Chair |

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