• The HBR Guide to Coaching Your Employees


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Aug 20, 2013

Comments

Moraledotme

Thanks for this. We're certainly fans of feedback and really appreciate you highlighting the need for safety and balance in employee engagement.

edbatista

Thanks for the comment. I think the key to safety is developing the ability to step back from the task at hand in order to assess people's emotional state (including our own). How safe is this relationship or group? If it feels sufficiently safe, how might I leverage that resource? What appropriate steps could I take that would encourage us to get out of our comfort zone? If it doesn't feel sufficiently safe, what would make me and others feel safer? How might I turn down the heat or slow things down just a little?

With regard to balance, I'd add that I think not just in terms of positive and negative feedback, but also in terms of challenge and support. If I'm challenging someone, they need to know that it's rooted in a desire to support their success and effectiveness--and if I'm providing support to someone, they also need to know that I'm ready and able to challenge them when necessary. Not surprisingly, I find that when I can achieve this balance in a relationship or group, the level of safety rises quickly and dramatically, and we can do much more meaningful work together.

One further thought on balance, courtesy of a tweet from the Gottman Institute: Gottman's research on the 5:1 ratio between positive and negative interactions in successful relationships is focused specifically on discussion during conflict. When we're well-connected with someone in a thriving relationship, even in the midst of a conflict, there's a preponderance of positive interactions.

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