The importance of feedback for personal development

Introducing our guest blogger, Bryony Wright.

Bryony Wright is a Postgraduate-qualified executive coach and a member of the International Coaching Federation. 
 She brings over 20 years’ marketing, PR and business experience to her coaching; and ran her own successful drinks PR and marketing consultancy for 12 years, serving clients across Europe and South America.


Imagine it’s your last day at work before retirement. Your career has spanned over 30 years in the drinks industry, including several senior roles in different companies, but never quite getting that final promotion to the Board.


Whilst having lunch with one of your colleagues you happen to mention wistfully how much you would have enjoyed being a part of the Senior Leadership Team, but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be.


‘Really??’ says your colleague, ‘But why didn’t you push yourself forwards for it? You always said you didn’t want to travel or to be away from your family, so when the MD asked me if I thought you were up for it, I said no! He agreed that you didn’t seem hungry for the responsibility!’


And all that time you’d thought you had made it really clear that it was what you wanted.


This type of scenario might sound extreme, but it’s actually incredibly common and is repeated over and over again in both big and small businesses in the drinks industry.  Those around us often interpret what we say and how we act in a totally different way to how we intend.


Here’s a different scenario: a team works closely on a new business pitch and wins. The manager holds a team meeting to discuss how that business will be implemented. He congratulates them for the win and announces who will do what, tells them exactly what he wants them to do, how they should be doing it and when. He thinks he is delegating effectively, but in fact he is dis-empowering the team. They have no ownership of the tasks, lose motivation and confidence and begin to resent both the manager and the new business.


As a coach one of my roles is to raise a mirror to my clients – to feed back to them how their behaviour affects and is interpreted by those around them, often after completing a 360 with key stakeholders to ensure that I have the full picture to hand. I am always surprised by the number of occasions when clients say that they have never received this type of feedback before, yet it is a vitally important part of developing effective leadership skills.


Giving feedback needs to be done in the right manner, factually, without judgement but with unconditional positive regard for the benefit of the receiver. It can be one of the most incredibly powerful tools for personal development.


Maybe it’s part of being British, but I believe that in the UK we find it particularly difficult to give constructive feedback. We shy away from it because it makes us feel uncomfortable. It also takes time. But we are holding people back from reaching their full potential when we side step this responsibility.


One golden opportunity for receiving constructive feedback can be in recruitment. But how many times have you interviewed someone for a job and then either just turned that person down with a standard letter, or worse, not responded at all?


By the time most candidates reach the final interview stage, their capabilities have already been assessed, and it is their behaviour and attitude that will be the deciding factors for success. When someone is turned down at this stage, it is the ideal opportunity to offer impartial, constructive pointers on how that person can alter their behaviour to make them more likely to succeed. So – let’s stop ignoring our responsibilities and make 2017 the year in which we give feedback positively and freely to ensure we develop the talent the industry needs for the future.


bryony wright



See Proven Coaching for further details

© Bryony Wright, December 2016


Sign up for the latest drinks jobs and news!
Get the latest content and drinks jobs first.
We respect your privacy.