Feedback, coaching and learning

Gaining feedback is important for us to grow. Especially if it tells us something that was perhaps a scotoma, or a blind spot. We all have them, these blind spots, the things that others see and we don’t. So when we get negative feedback, what do we do with it? Sometimes we act, and improve, yet sometime we do nothing. When we change it allows a stabilising of the system. This can be referred to as homeostasis, as in biology, or equilibrium, as in mechanics.

Effective feedback, both positive and negative, is very helpful.  We take this valuable information and make important decisions in our RTO. Yet we so often don’t see the real essence of what someone is trying to say. If someone says – that training was crap – well that is true. In their head it was. However the fact is not true that the training was crap for everyone. In fact probably the majority of the people who attended the training thought it was amazing. The problem is, these people usually don’t say anything.

Feedback and your RTO

RTOs need to have mechanisms to find the feedback, and be able to act upon it. However if you only see one sided feedback, then this could be giving you a one-sided picture. To truly gain benefit from feedback it needs to be constructive. Bagging someone out and using absolute terms and words doesn’t help anyone. Just because you didn’t deliver what someone wanted or the greatest presentation on earth, doesn’t mean “you are not a good presenter” or “you have no idea”. It might just mean they didn’t hear what they wanted.

Perhaps when the person who said your training was crap, was really trying to grasp the concepts you put forward, and couldn’t put them into their world. Perhaps they were having a bad day, or maybe they just didn’t like what you said.  We see situations and people through our own experiences, feelings and perceptions.

So how can we change this?

What we need is open communication! Dialogue that goes two-way and back again. Perhaps if we asked “so you thought the training session was bad, what specifically did you not like?” then you would have a better understanding, and you could respond. “OK, so if we did this, would that make more sense?”

Feedback is the cheapest, most powerful, yet, most under used management tool that we have at our disposal. The problem is, we don’t like giving feedback. Do you actually remember the last time somebody gave you feedback on something you’ve done outside of a scheduled or paid feedback session? I’m thinking you can’t, or it was so long ago you’re having to wrack your brain to remember.

So people don’t give feedback often, and we are not used to hearing it. Or we only hear negative comments, and shut them out. Even when it is positive, people sometimes turn it into a negative! Hence feedback is unfortunately avoided or even feared. Yet it is probably one of the greatest gifts you can give and also receive from someone.

Coaching in business 

This leads me to the benefit of having coaches.  We need coaches in the workplace. Coaches that can support you in your journey, in business, in life. Coaches can assist you in many areas, and provide you with regular feedback. Coaching often involves an emotional shift, and supporting you through your journey. Coaching allows you to think through feedback and make sense of it. It provides ongoing, regular and informal feedback. It allows us to put in place changes, inspire us to do more, or ways to strategize for the next session.

RTO Mentor


This post relates to RTOs, yet it also relates to us, personally. Having open dialogue allows us to feel the impact of feedback, whether negative or positive. That way when we give feedback, we have a better understanding of how emotions can change the way it can be perceived. So before you jump right in, check your own motives and current mood – whether you feel angry, annoyed, jealous, stressed, or simply just have a negative attitude towards the other person. Then it is up to you to really look at the performance of the other person professionally and kindly, with the goal of helping them to unlock their greatest potential.

Seth Godin says – find 10 people, share with them something that will amaze and delight that 10 people.  Coaching is about sharing with others something that can help them overcome fear, and move them into another space, a space for learning.

Giving feedback is just as beneficial as receiving feedback, because it makes us think, reflect, and consider other views as well. Working without feedback is similar to setting out an important journey minus a map or signposts. You may have a great sense of direction but this may not be sufficient to keep you on track.

Consider how you will support the giving and receiving of feedback in your life and your RTO.

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