How to observe and giving feedback
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How to Observe and Giving Feedback. Parsloe,Eric and Leedham,Melville (2009). Coaching and Mentoring, Practical conversations to improve learning . London: Kogan Page. Feedback

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How to Observe and Giving Feedback

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How to Observeand Giving Feedback

Parsloe,Eric and Leedham,Melville (2009). Coaching and Mentoring, Practical conversations to improve learning. London: Kogan Page.


  • Feedback

    • Defined as communication with a person that give information about how his or her behaviour is perceived by others and the effect it has on them.

    • Feedback helps us to learn by increasing both awareness of what we are doing and how we are doing it.


Observing Performance

  • Coach-mentors will continually find themselves having to give feedback.

  • Inexperienced learners often want to ask,

    • How well am I doing?

    • Have I improved my competence?

  • An experienced learner, attempting to improve his or her performance still further, might say

    • If I do this way, I think it will be better. What do you think?

  • Alternatively, a coach-mentor may be asked’

    • I have the chance to apply for this new job, do you think I should do it?


How to Observe - simplicity tips

  • Start by explaining, or confirming if previously agreed, why you are observing the learner – you are there to help him or her improve, not to catch him or her out. Make sure you also explain your purpose to any other people directly involved.

  • Be aware of your influence on the learner’s performance and position yourself as unobtrusively as possible. Consider how you would feel if someone watching you do something.


  • Observe the process the learner is using to carry out the activity.

  • Observe the quality or standard of the final outcome or end result achieved.

  • Don’t interrupt the interactions or activity, or distract the learner or any other participants during the observation.


  • Ask questions to verify your understanding, but only you are sure you are not affecting the activity or process.

  • Observe the interaction or behaviour several times in different contexts if possible.

  • Make notes at the time for discussion later.

  • Compare what you saw with any ‘standard’ procedures or with what you may have previously been told.

  • Observe other people carry out the same process or behaviourfor comparison purposes if relevant or appropriate.


Observing principles

  • To encourage the learner to articulate his or her own answer to the question.

  • To establish just how important or relevant the coach-mentor’s feedback will be.

  • Having encouraged self-assessment, to give feedback which is clear, concise and constructive.


Constructive Feedback

  • Increase self-awareness, offers options as well as opinions and encourages self-development.

  • Feedback about poor performance, given skillfully, can equally useful an important as an aid to development.


Feedback result

  • Understanding more about how they come across to others

  • Choosing to change

  • Keeping their behaviour on target to achieve good results

  • Becoming more effective


Effective Feedback - potential barriers

  • Can come as a surprise or shock when there are no clear objectives for the job or development, or when the learner and the coach-mentor do not share the same perception of these.

  • May be delivered in a way that the recipients sees as concentrating on critical or unsubstantiated judgements, which offend the recipient’s sense of fairness.


  • There may be a problem of credibility; it is important that the recipient believes the feedback-giver is competent to comment on those points.

  • Previous history of receiving negative feedback may take the recipient feel obliged to ‘defend his or her corner’.

  • People are ‘afraid’ to give feedback because they are not confident about handling the response and concerned that feedback will damage relationships.


Sensitivity and Stress

  • Many young people are shy and feel awkward and embarrassed in new situations where they have to perform alongside other experienced staff.


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