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HBR Guide to Coaching Employees (HBR Guide Series) by Harvard Business Review

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Chapter 6

Giving Feedback That Sticks

by Ed Batista

Although coaching is primarily about asking questions rather than providing answers, your employees will want your candid feedback on their performance. I’ve been involved in thousands of feedback conversations with clients and students over the years, and again and again I’ve heard people say, “Just give it to me straight.”

But that simple request can be difficult to fulfill. When you say “Can I give you some feedback?” to your employees, their heart rate and blood pressure are almost certain to increase, and they may experience other signs of stress as well. These are symptoms of a “threat response,” also known as “fight-or-flight”: a cascade of neurological and physiological events that impair ...

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