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Lise Lewis

Taking the Fear out of Feedback: a relational approach to coaching conversations based on an interpretive enquiry

Type: Related Fields

Session on Tuesday, Jun 23th, 15:25
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Dr Lise Lewis is an Executive Coach and Coach Supervisor. She founded Bluesky International in 2000 following a rewarding career in HR to progress her main interest of helping people to achieve their personal and professional ambitions through coaching/mentoring. She proudly supports the quality standards of the EMCC as a designer, international provider and trainer of EMCC accredited programmes in coaching/mentoring and in coach supervision skills.

Lise is also an EMCC accredited coach at Master Practitioner level, has a MBA, is a Chartered Fellow of CIPD and completed a Professional Doctorate in Executive Coaching with Middlesex University in 2014. Her research topic grew from observing the importance of feedback and a wish to improve the experience of this activity.

She has been President of EMCC International since 2011 and was re-elected in June 2014 for a further 3 years. Her ambition in this role is to promote the EMCC with its vision of ‘being the go-to-body for mentoring and coaching’. This includes supporting the creation of a body of knowledge through research that will inform professional practice


Feedback is generally accepted as being significant in improving individual and ultimately organisational performance and is integral to coach / mentor practice. Given this emphasis there is scope for improving the activity when the anticipation of engaging with feedback can elicit feelings of anxiety sometimes escalating to fear. This perception was reinforced by observations during employment in HR and from conversations with clients. Their recollection of incidents at work suggests there is a sense of negativity surrounding the delivery of feedback. Examples appear to demonstrate that both recipients and those giving feedback are reluctant to endorse the adage that ‘feedback is a gift’ despite courageous efforts to adopt this activity as ‘supporting performance improvement’.

The default position is that feedback is often avoided for areas perceived as ‘criticism’ with participants resorting to giving only favourable comments. The result can be that feedback is diluted which ultimately leads to disenchantment and reluctance to engage in what are perceived as sterile performance management discussions. There is also the ethical dilemma to consider when employees considered as underperforming believe their contribution at work is acceptable in the absence of being offered information to the contrary. Attempts to remedy this situation and support the process of feedback are channelled through the use of tools and techniques including psychometrics and, for example, techniques offering a ratio of positive: negative comments. These generally focus on the method of providing feedback with little, if any, attention drawn to the emotional impact on the recipient. There also appears to be limited guidance in coaching text on how capability in giving and receiving feedback is acquired. Relational aspects are gaining prominence in more recent coaching text as good practice from counselling is adapted for coaching. This is reinforced by competences created by professional bodies for coaching / mentoring practice.

To support this developing emphasis on relationship the PPR Coaching Framework© created from evidence-based research offers guidance on a ‘way of being’. Activities are recommended in this framework for creating a receptive environment at different stages within the coaching and performance management conversations. Through this relational approach the anticipation is that engaging in feedback from this perspective will diminish the current conjecture about feedback discussions and promote more positive engagement. This session introduces participants to the research methodology used in the development of the PPR Coaching Framework© and an opportunity to participate with its application in practice.

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