Coaching vs. Feedback (vs. Mentoring): What’s the Difference?
We hear terms like mentoring, coaching, and feedback in the workplace all the time. Some people even use coaching and feedback interchangeably. But unfortunately, not everyone understands the difference between the two.
Join us as we break down the difference between coaching, feedback, and mentorship. We also discuss the best practices for each.
💬 What Is Coaching in the Workplace?
Coaching is a form of performance-based training where an individual with more experience and knowledge uses it to develop and grow others. The aim is to empower employees to use the information to make better decisions.
"A coach may help employees who’ve had a career change. They can provide 1:1 training to help employees learn and develop new tasks and skills."
Types of Coaching
It is used to improve one’s skills for further advancement.
Enhances employees’ skills by teaching them additional knowledge. Gives them an edge over their competitors.
It helps you achieve your dreams by learning to harness your potential.
Targets executives and individuals in leadership roles. It’s used to improve overall performance.
🔄 What Is Feedback in the Workplace?
It refers to a situation where a senior employee gives information based on the junior colleague’s skills, actions, and sometimes behavior. Feedback seeks to enhance your self-awareness for better decisions.
“I think you did a great job when you led the meeting. It reflected your knowledge and skills about the topic and that you’re able to communicate effectively.”
Types of Feedback
Occurs in a formal setting, e.g., between an employer and an employee. It follows a systematic structure complete with an evaluation at the end.
It’s the inverse of formal feedback ― it occurs in an informal setting. It is used to establish a rapport with the other person.
Makes observations on behavior to improve.
It’s the most common and uses the observer’s perspective to make a judgment. However, its primary focus is the action.
It’s usually in question form and seeks to clarify information.
Internal vs. External Feedback
Internal feedback focuses on one’s feelings and any stimuli acting on them. Its primary focus is the person taking action.
On the other hand, external feedback relies on the influences from one’s immediate environment. Therefore, it focuses more on the action than the person making it.
⏰ When to Use Which?
Workplaces use coaching when implementing new leadership and development curriculums. As a result, employees learn new skills and improve their work techniques.
Conversely, companies use feedback during evaluations. Such instances include:
- Staff meetings
- Yearly reviews
- After completing a project
🆚 Feedback vs. Coaching: Differences
🆚 Feedback vs. Coaching vs. Mentoring
Feedback gives information on past behavior, while coaching focuses on future actions. Feedback makes employees understand their previous shortcomings so that they can improve. Coaching seeks to improve future outcomes by identifying potential issues and fixing them.
On the flip side, mentoring involves sharing your skills and knowledge to improve performance. Lastly, mentoring doesn’t require formal training, while coaching does.
🆚 What Is the Difference Between Feedback and Feedforward?
Feedback refers to information concerning activity, behavior, or skill in a work setting. It can be critical or constructive. Essential criticism focuses on wrongdoing without giving any advice, while constructive feedback does the opposite. Constructive feedback is positive and focused on improving the output.
Feedforward is solution-oriented. Its primary focus is improving future outcomes by identifying problems and devising solutions before affecting the company.
🏆 Benefits of Mentoring, Feedback, and Coaching
Mentoring equips employees with additional skills and knowledge. In addition, coaching and feedback sharpen critical thinking and communication skills. When combined, these practices result in a dramatic increase in performance.
Employees are more likely to be motivated in an environment that gives regular and helpful feedback. In the same way, coaching and mentoring improve employee engagement and, consequently, morale.
Fosters Collaboration and Teamwork in the Workplace
The best way to cultivate positive work relations is by giving constructive feedback. When combined, mentoring, coaching, and feedback improve communication. The result is a pleasant work environment.
Improves Organizational Processes
Mentoring, coaching, and feedback all have a common goal ― enhancing performance. In addition, these processes improve organizational processes by sharpening leadership and creative thinking skills.
📈 Best Practices for Coaching
Use Guiding Questions
Guiding questions are perfect for getting your employees to open up and be more vulnerable. They are a form of open-ended questions designed to develop critical thinking skills in the recipient. For example, instead of asking an employee why the software isn’t working, ask what they think the problem could be.
Managers who use guiding questions exhibit better collaboration and teamwork with their employees. Asking guiding questions improves skills such as:
- Creative thinking
Listen to Your Employees
Listening to your employees is the best approach to building trust. When you listen to your workers, they’re more inclined to respond to your coaching strategies. Here are a few ways you can practice effective listening:
- Follow up with questions - show your employees that you’re listening by asking follow-up questions. In addition to following up, you can also ask confirming questions whenever you don’t understand a point. You can also give a summary of whatever the other person says.
- Pay attention - maintain eye contact with the other person while they speak. Giving them your undivided attention shows you value what they have to say. Also, it conveys that you respect them as an individual.
- Use non-verbal cues - nod your head when listening to your employees. Smile when talking to the other person ― it shows friendliness and makes them trust you more. Mirror what they’re doing, their facial expressions, posture, or stance.
- Don’t interrupt the other person as they speak. It’s rude and gives them the impression you don’t value what they say.
Give Consistent Feedback
A good coach offers consistent and honest feedback. Regular updates on employee performance are a powerful motivator. Schedule a day when all employees meet and talk. Point out areas they can work on and give them suggestions on improving.
Similarly, recognize when they do good. For example, congratulate an employee when they meet a target.
Set Realistic Expectations
Fostering a good relationship with your employees allows you to learn their strengths and weaknesses. These qualities set the tone for your expectations. I mean, you won’t be assigning an employee a customer care role if you know they have a problem talking to people, right?
Lastly, create a plan with actionable steps to meet these expectations.
Working with people requires empathy. We all have different perspectives, but we need to reach a middle ground at the end of the day. A good coach can put themselves in the other person’s shoes.
Being an empathetic coach means you understand. You can quickly gauge a situation and respond accordingly when you’re empathetic. However, you’re not quick to make assumptions, nor do you jump to conclusions.
Know Your Employees
The first rule of coaching is to know and understand the other person. You learn their strengths, weaknesses, and even their passions. This information helps you make better managerial decisions.
You connect with your team, thereby improving communication. Below are some suggestions on how to get to know your employees:
- Plan a fun day where you can play games and have fun with them: an outdoor picnic, a hike, or a board game.
- Ask “Get To Know You” questions to all the workers - it’s arguably the best way to get insider information. Alternatively, games like Would You Rather can help you interact with them.
- Set up regular staff meetings where members can meet and socialize.
- Encourage collaboration in the workplace by grouping them into teams. The more time they spend with each other, the better they know each other.
Develop an Action Plan
Create a structure for your coaching by developing an action plan. There are several steps to creating one:
- Get your objectives straight - Why are you coaching, and what do you want to gain from it?
- Evaluate your goals - Are they achievable? Are they realistic?
- Create a list of actions to take and break them down into smaller steps
- Set a deadline - that way, you can track your progress.
- Evaluate your action plan - you can make adjustments.
Be Receptive to Ideas
You can still learn something new even as a coach. There’s somebody in your team who knows a valuable thing or two. Make the workplace a pseudo classroom where you can learn from each other.
Ask for opinions. Be open and receptive to new ideas ―conventional practices might not always work. Problem-solving skills require creative thinking. Encourage your employees to think out of the box.
Ask For Feedback
What makes a good coach? It’s the ability to receive feedback the same way you dish it out. Ask your employees for their evaluation. The information they provide will help you make your action plan more accurate.
In addition, they might point out a few blind spots that you need to improve on.
📊 Best Practices for Giving Feedback
Be Prompt With Your Feedback
Feedback is more effective when it’s given on time. Your employees can then make the necessary corrections and improve productivity. So don’t wait until it’s six weeks after to share your opinion.
The other person will keep making the same mistakes, preventing them from growing. If you’re not growing, then you’re not being productive.
Give Constructive Feedback
There are two kinds of feedback:
- Constructive - which offers helpful pointers on how and where to improve
- Critical - which focuses on one’s wrongdoing without offering solutions.
Don’t only give feedback when it’s negative. It’s demoralizing to your employees, which affects their performance. Instead, recognize when your employees are performing well. It works wonders for their motivation.
Studies show that employees who receive regular motivation are more productive than their counterparts. So the next time you’re chatting with your staff, give them a thumbs up for their good work.
Be specific when giving feedback. How would you expect to see any improvement? Go into specific details. For example, if your employee didn’t do well in a presentation, don’t just tell them to work on it.
Offer helpful suggestions ―tell them what areas they need to improve on.
Use Non-Verbal Communication Cues
- Facial expressions such as smiling and raising your eyebrows - show that you’re friendly and make employees more receptive.
- The tone of voice - speak slowly and more articulately.
- Posture - sit or stand with your back straight when speaking. It conveys confidence.
- Eye contact - maintain eye contact when giving feedback to your employees. It shows you’re interested in what they have to say.
- Gestures - give your employees a thumbs up when they do perform exceptionally.
❓ How to Improve Coaching and Feedback in the Workplace
Use guiding questions. They are a form of open-ended questions designed to develop critical thinking skills in the recipient. Second, on the list is to listen to your employees. When you listen to your workers, they’re more inclined to respond to your coaching strategies.
Don’t forget to give consistent feedback. For example, schedule a day when all employees meet and talk. Point out areas they can work on and give them suggestions on improving. Another tip on improving coaching and feedback is by learning and practicing empathy.
You can quickly gauge a situation and respond accordingly when you’re empathetic. Being a compassionate coach means you understand where the other person is coming from.
Lastly, the first coaching rule is to know and understand your employees. This information helps you make better managerial decisions. Then, plan a fun day where you can play games and have fun with them.
➡️ Start your coaching and feedback today with Zavvy
Feedback and coaching are critical for employees to excel in their roles. Whether given one-on-one or to the whole team, always remember that it needs to be valuable, insightful, and offered as frequently as possible. This builds employee-manager solid relationships, and most importantly, creates a trusting work environment.
Managers committed to growing their people realize that employee development requires strategic planning, improvisation, and seamless implementation. To make it easier for every leader, coach, and manager, we’ve designed employee development programs that you can configure, plan, engage, and track the progress.
With Zavvy you have:
- 🔁 360 feedback software: Collect valuable multi-source feedback.
- 🌟 Skills matrix software: Identify and display individual and organizational skill gaps.
- 📚 Learning experience platform: Build customized learning experiences from an extensive library of world-class courses.
- 🌱 Employee development software