Are You Coaching or Do You Just Not Trust Me?


There is a fine line between coaching and making someone feel they are un-trusted to do their jobs. This is especially true in situational coaching where you provide guidance beforehand. The key is who initiates.

The challenge as a manager is often the confusion the feedback loop and coaching messages can send. Largely, the message we receive about feedback is it most effective when it is continuous and ongoing. So often the interpretation is we should give feedback all the time, which is an over simplification.

Coaching is more about the style in which you provide feedback. Essentially it means giving for a very focused improvement a narrowing observation and questions or suggestions that work toward that end. Giving feedback is very broad, but coaching feedback is typically very specific. Which is why there are different types of coaches out there (life coach, batting coach, swimming coach, executive coach, etc.)

Do people need and want feedback? Most certainly. Do people want advice? Not particularly. And when you give it before they take action, you’re giving advice, not feedback – especially if they did not ask you.

I’ll tell you my personal concern and how I internalize advice or “feedback before the fact.” When someone gives me feedback or advice before I do something or without me asking, the assumption I feel they are making is I either do not have the capacity to do it correctly or am not intelligent enough to execute that which I am about to do. Either way, I infer you think I am stupid. Not many people respond well to being called or thought of as stupid. In any event, it makes me feel un-trusted to do a quality job.

And you know what, I may still screw up. In which case, I may welcome and ask for your feedback on how to improve. Assuming I will screw up before I even attempt it is just one way you are telling me – you just don’t trust me.

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One thought on “Are You Coaching or Do You Just Not Trust Me?

  1. Great post. In the words of Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.” As you state, feedback should come after and the manager should be open enough to allow questions to be asked before completion.

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