Collaborative Feedback: Creating Accountability


The next blog in our series on the important topics business leaders are talking about in 2019 is collaborative-feedbackabout “Collaborative Feedback.”  The days of leaders standing up in front of a group of employees shouting “I’m going to hold people accountable” in a command and control environment are over. The new norm is strong, yet collaborative, methods of delivering coaching and feedback that is effective in terms of executing the big picture and actually getting things done through people.

More and more, today’s leaders are responsible for managing both teams and processes at the same time in a matrixed structure where the people they are working with are either virtual, don’t directly report to them, or both! New skills and new tools of providing collaborative feedback are a must for surviving and more importantly for finding ways of accomplishing goals and objectives.

What is Collaborative Feedback?

Collaborative feedback is a method of giving feedback that takes away the antagonism and replaces it with a positive, look-forward approach.  One of the most popular and useful models of collaborative coaching is the GROW model.

Here is an example of a situation where the GROW model can be effective…

I’m going to share with you a glimpse into the dynamics between two employees by the names of Ellen and Theo.  Let’s say they both report to you.  Ellen is very good at her job and has a strong drive for success.  Unfortunately, she can be confrontational with co-workers and even customers when things don’t go exactly her way.  Theo has been struggling at work.  His last review was just “average,” and he has not shown a strong drive for success seemingly very happy with coming in at 9am and leaving at 5pm.  You observe the following:

Ellen is sitting by herself in a conference room.  She’s clearly agitated.  Theo slow-jogs into the room and you hear the following dialog:

Ellen – [Sarcastically] Well, well, hello Theo. So nice of you to join me.  The call with the customer starts in two minutes. I told you that being on time means that you are late.  So, what’s your excuse this time?  Traffic? Line at the elevator? Overslept?  I hope you have everything ready for this call.  I’ve been so busy on other projects that I’m really counting on you to be prepared for this.  You are ready, right?

Theo – Well, not exactly.  I got called onto another project late yesterday afternoon with another customer and I basically pulled an all-nighter getting that done as it was really critical.

Ellen – Really critical?  More critical than my meeting.  Great, just great.  I can’t believe it. This is going to be a disaster.

Theo – I’m really sorry.  I should have let you know…

Ellen – Yes you should have.  So, you know what?  Please leave. Go to your other more critical project.  I will do this myself.

Theo – Really Ellen? Is this all necessary? I’m a team player and do whatever it takes to help whenever and where ever. Your constant negative attitude is not helping.

This is obviously a difficult situation. What’s the best way to coach Ellen in a way that ends in a positive and collaborative way where things actually get done as opposed to yelling?  The GROW model teaches us to focus on a positive and collaborative questioning dialogue that includes:

  • Setting Goals
  • Being Realistic
  • Developing Options
  • Finding the Will to do things right

In applying the GROW model, the conversation could look like this:

“Ellen, I’d like to take a moment to talk about the situation with Theo.  I understand that you feel strongly about people supporting each other and are disappointed with Theo. I also know that Theo was working hard last night on another project and can be a valuable contributor to our company.

To give you my perspective, I would like you to take that passion for success and focus it to be more positive and collaborative.

If you agree, let’s set some basic goals on how to be more positive.  If situations like this happen in the future, can you commit to not raising your voice and thinking through how your actions impact other co-workers and all our productivity?

Let’s discuss some of the options that you could use if you find yourself in a situation like this again. These options could include providing Theo positive feedforward like I am doing now so he can improve his performance. Another idea is to reach out to him in advance to see if he needs help since we all know that he can get sucked into too many projects.  You may not want to do his job for him, but at the end of the day this is about getting the work done.

Take some time to think about it and let’s meet again in a few days to develop a plan for how you can change your behaviors to be more positive and collaborative.”

While the GROW model may not be for everyone, Collaborative Feedback should be. Things have changed and if you are serious about meeting your goals, then you need to get serious about Collaborative Feedback.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.