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Experts! Speak English! Podcast

How to become a feedback superhero

Where have I been the last three weeks?

Hello and welcome to a new episode of Experts! Speak English! It’s great to have you here today and I’ve missed you guys because those of you that are listening regularly will have noticed that the last three weeks Corinne has not been showing up in the podcast feed. Now, why is that? Well, basically, I was selected to take part in a founder’s institute programme, which is an incubator for start-ups, and I was very proud to receive a female fellowship.


So, it started about six weeks ago and I was very committed, but I’ve realised that it was kind of taking over my life and the most important thing for me are: family, my clients and sport. And all three of those things got very sadly neglected. It was very consuming, which is okay, you know, that’s all part of setting up a start-up, but I realized, when I was doing this that, actually, I could roll out my idea – and I’ll tell you more about that in a minute – without investors or certainly not on that scale. Maybe I can work with an angel-investor or grants, maybe there’s another workaround, or maybe I can just bootstrap it, which is the way I’ve always done my business. But I was kind of hoping to go global with this.


Anyway, that’s why I’ve been gone. I’m really sorry I’ve neglected you all, so sorry about that. I would give you all a hug if I could but, anyway, I’m back. Thank you very much for sticking around and not unsubscribing to this podcast. 

Hi there, it’s Coco here from the Experts! Speak English! Podcast and today I’m going to be
sharing with you some tips and tricks for not just feeding back, but for feeding forward.


In today’s tough employment market, it’s really difficult to keep your staff engaged and really invested in your organisation. So, one of the easiest ways to build employee loyalty and
commitment to your company, your department, your project is to give them
amazing feedback because one of the key reasons to leave a company is a lack of
solid, constructive feedback that you can use to grow as an individual and as a


I’m your host, CorinneWilhelm, and I’ve been helping experts to secure the career that they deserve in finance and tech for over 20 years now. And the Experts! Speak English!
is all about getting you to have the confidence and the capability
to speak up and own your space as an expert, even if you’re not a native


The regular approach

The normal way to talk about feedback is to think about, what has happened in the past. And we tend to focus on what went wrong depending on the culture that you’re in. So, it’s okay to look at what went wrong, but it’s more important to put an emphasis on what you can do right next time.

So yes, you can touch on the past, but it’s really important to put the emphasis on the future. And actually, I use this as a little bit of a trick to get people to use the past tense and the future tense when they’re working with me so it doesn’t feel like grammar that way. You can do critiques of previous work, that’s fine but what you also need to add is, you know, suggestions or recommendations on what they could try
next time. And it might be something about their delivery, it might be their vocabulary, it might have been graphics, it might have been, you know, the numbers might not have added up – whatever it is: If you can tell them what they can do better and what they can try without being too domineering, you’re investing in their future, you’re investing in their career, and they feel that you are taking them under your wing and helping them to be successful.


You can describe what’s happened or what your observations were, you know,

“I’ve got the impression you were nervous”,

“I didn’t really feel engaged in what you were telling us at the beginning of the story that you told”,

“I felt a little bit uncomfortable because you were talking about women all the time”,

whatever it is – that description of what you perceived, that’s one thing but the important thing is to give ideas on how to improve. And I’m talking about specific suggestions here.


Instead of focusing on the mistakes ...

So, rather than gender-bashing, just focus on what the women do really well. Focus on the fact that their return on investments tends to be a lot higher in start-ups with women, for example. That draws me in as an investor. So, focusing on what they did and didn’t do well, that’s fine, but you need to focus also on how they can develop and progress. Now, that might be a behavioural thing, it might be a communication thing, but it might also be something like “Why don’t you read this book”, or “Do you follow so-and-so on LinkedIn?”, or “Have you thought about doing some communication coaching in English?”, for example, or “Why don’t you come and join our local Toastmasters group?”.


So, all of these things are constructive pieces of advice that would help them move forward in a more professional, confident, and maybe a more convincing way. It shouldn’t be you doing all the work if you’re giving the feedback, it shouldn’t just be you telling them, ideally, you should be asking them. So, when you’re giving feedback, it’s the person giving feedback that is doing all the work, right? They’re telling you things, they rarely ask as a rule, they tend to tell you things, but they’re doing all of the talking, right? And when we’re talking more about feed-forward, then the person receiving the feedback is the one asking the
questions, asking for advice, suggesting ways that they can do it, and taking advantage of your experience and using you as a sounding board, really. Running their ideas past you and seeing if that seems like a good idea to you. And that’s where you can really notice where the feedback is happening or feed-forward. I challenge you to be aware of who is doing the most talking. That’s a really good indicator.



Focus on moving forwards, by asking questions.

Now you can highlight the errors and, you know, that’s useful sometimes, especially if you’re mentoring somebody, you’ve got the experience and the knowledge and the know-how. But, you know, with feed-forward you should be asking

“What would you do differently next time?”
“What do you think you could say that would pick people up more?”
“What do you think you could do with your hands?”
“Which examples could you use?”
“Which anecdotes could you use to illustrate that point?”

And, you know, feedback, let’s face it, it can be very time consuming, whereas feed-forward is actually a bit more time effective, in my opinion, simply because you’re not wasting time harping on and on and on about what went wrong. Instead, you’re investing your time in looking forward and making improvements. So, feedback can inadvertently lead to people feeling kind of judged and a little bit down on their performance, really. Whereas, if you’re feeding forward, you know, the emphasis is on the task ahead, you know, it’s like “This is just the beginning”, you know, and it’s not about the person, it’s about the performance.


Managing emotions through empowerment

The person receiving the feedback can take the comments personally and get defensive, especially if they feel like it didn’t really go that well.

Whereas the person receiving comments about constructive advice about what you could do, what you could try, how you could make those fabulous statistics stand out more; these are motivational.

And, you know, very often your mentee or your coachee or your member of staff will feel really inspired to go back to the drawing board and really think, “Okay, great, that went okay. I could do even better if I did this, this and this”.

And you’ll find that with a more constructive approach, a more specific approach with solid examples and of course, a healthy dose of encouragement that that person will really excel going forward.


Coco's Communication Challenge

So, today’s episode was a really short episode. The Call To Action is simple: Try to go from feeding back to feeding forward. Think more about the future, not the past, but give them actionable steps that they can take.


And ideally, there should be some steps that are really easy to implement, a real quick win. And make sure that they’re the one asking the questions, make yourself available and approachable, and that will make a massive difference to the impact that you’re having on them.


Objections & Coaching with Coco

And if you’re listening to this and thinking “Well, this all sounds well, Corinne, but you know what? I’m not really sure how that would pan out for me. I’d like to have like a dummy-run, if you like, where I can practise this and get some feedback from you and let’s work together and get this really clear”, then get in touch for a Virtual Tea Break. Just take a look at the show notes and there’s a link right in there for you.

And if you’re thinking, “My goodness, I have to find time for this as well now”, I implore you to think about the time that you would spend recruiting and onboarding a new member of staff and think about everything that this member of staff knows already, or he is already contributing massively, so let’s take advantage of that.


Have fun with that. A really short one today. All that remains for me to say is: Have a fabulous week and be the very best communicator that you can be! And I will see you next week for the podcast: “Experts! Speak English!”



Take care now. It’s Corinne Wilhelm from English Speaking Experts. Goodbye for now!