Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)

All five forms of feedback can be appreciative in nature, though corrective and judgmental feedback must be carefully crafted if it is to be appreciative. Corroborative, diagnostic, and descriptive forms of feedback all help a group progress toward its assigned task. Corroborative feedback encourages group members to build on each other’s ideas. The problem solving process called Synectics relies heavily on corroborative feedback. Diagnostic feedback is of great value as well in problem- solving settings, while descriptive feedback helps members of a group monitor their own behavior and improve their effectiveness as group members. Descriptive feedback, unlike judgmental (and sometimes corrective) feedback tends not to elicit defensive responses from the recipient. She can decide whether or not the behavior being identified is what she intended to enact. With some additional diagnostic or corrective feedback, the recipient can determine the probable consequences of his behavior.

A group leader significantly increases the probability that feedback will be offered in a helpful manner if she plans for a specific time when feedback is to be solicited. Frequently, when feedback is offered in a spontaneous manner, it has not been carefully prepared by the sender, hence is confusing, contradictory or incomplete. Furthermore, off the cuff feedback often occurs when the sender is particularly frustrated or feeling angry, hence it tends to be emotionally laden and judgmental. If members of a group are told that the presenter would like to take ten minutes to present her ideas before feedback is solicited, then group members will usually comply with the request. They will not comply, however, if they have been told the same thing at previous meetings and never given an adequate opportunity to give feedback.

Given a credible timetable, group members typically will take notes during the presentation, carefully prepare their comments, and provide their feedback after the presentation. This model will be particularly successful if the initial presentation is short, or if it is broken into five- or ten-minute chunks with feedback after each chunk. It will also be successful if group members, at some early point, learn about and are given an opportunity to practice, observe, or read about the specific type of feedback that is desired.


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William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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