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Graham Hooper – Learn how to teach your PDIs/ADIs positive feedback techniques

Positive Feedback Techniques

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Feedback: This is a “POWERFUL TOOL.” Feedback occurs when a coach observes what a client is doing and communicates it back to them. It accelerates the learning outcomes/goals agreed upon for the lesson.

If you want to learn more about feedback and discover different feedback techniques, read on. ADIs/PDIs often get caught being unsure of what to say or how to say it. This leads to either being silent for long periods or engaging in ineffective chatter (e.g., “Good!”, “Well done!”, “Great mirrors”). Although some coaches would say this is motivational, anyone delivering lessons knows that this kind of feedback makes clients tune out to the ADIs/PDIs’ words.

Another common coaching behavior is to jump in with feedback only when clients are making faults. By understanding different categories and purposes of feedback, an ADI can prepare better and have a healthier framework for knowing what to say. Two key feedback “Laws” that can improve a coach’s feedback are:

  1. Feedback must always have a purpose.
  2. Positive feedback works positively.

Feedback must always have a purpose: The reason you speak as an ADI/PDI is to produce a particular response. If an ADI has the goal/learning outcome in mind before they speak, their feedback will be more effective. There are two main reasons an ADI gives feedback: for motivation or to enhance learning.

  • Motivational feedback: This is when an ADI helps students focus and maintain good effort and attitude in the lesson. For example, when a client needs encouragement to maintain focus even as the lesson draws to a close.
  • Enhancing learning using Feedback: This is when an ADI helps a client change current behavior, such as making a smoother gear change or selecting the correct gear for the road and traffic conditions. Giving immediate feedback helps keep things on track. Reinforcing positive behavior ensures the client knows when they are doing things correctly and when they have not performed the task as well as they could.

Learning anything new is often not an easy process. The skill for a coach is to know why they are giving feedback. Finding faults, analyzing them, and providing remedial action are only small parts of the feedback process. If coaches primarily focus on this, they are short-changing their clients!

Using coaching effectively in driver training is an interactive communication process that requires building trust and rapport with the client. I am not sure if you have noticed, but telling people what they are doing wrong does not usually win any relational points with people, even if the advice is technically correct. How one says something is every bit as important as what is said; this is true in any relationship, whether a friend, spouse, or client.

Coaches must become “success seekers” rather than “fault finders”. This is critical because positive feedback, as opposed to negative, builds up a better long-term psychology. Negative feedback often builds a “fear of failure” mentality. This can lead to clients getting overwhelmed with nerves in test situations.

Positive feedback builds a “go for the goal” mentality. Going for a goal creates more confidence.

If positive feedback is so powerful, why don’t more ADIs/PDIs embrace it? The answer is that positive feedback is very misunderstood. What positive coaching feedback does not mean is calling poor performance good. This is called “flattery”. Telling little Johnny “Great driving” when they are unaware of what is going on around them. This kind of feedback will often even have a negative effect as Johnny starts to expect emotional rewards no matter how poor his performance is.

Positive feedback is a communication tool to change specific behaviors. It reflects the performance of the student. No matter what the performance (good or bad) is, a coach can remember the keywords “Praise” and “Encourage”.

Praising is what a coach should do when a student performs correctly. Coaches should constantly try to catch their clients doing things right! By reinforcing good performance, the client will repeat it over and over again and start to develop confidence. Encouragement is what a coach should do when the client makes mistakes and performs poorly. Telling them they “are rubbish” is of no use to clients since they often don’t have any idea of the right thing to do. Always link the remedial action to the result that can be expected. For example, “Johnny, your preparation was fine; you will need to change your speed on approach to the junction to give you time to look and make a safe decision. Here the coach praises any good performance and encourages to improve any poor performance.

In this way, good performance gets highlighted, making it easier to remember and repeat. Poor performances are corrected without the emotional impact of negative feedback, and, most importantly, clients learn how to be problem solvers rather than learning the coach thinks they are awful. By maintaining purposeful, positive feedback, a coach can help clients love learning to drive, have more fun, and improve their level of performance.

If you are interested in becoming an ADI/PDI trainer, you need to know how to develop skills in others. My next Train the Trainer course will do just that; book your place now, as, funny enough, they keep getting sold out.

Graham Hooper

Follow this link for all of my available courses:

Graham Hooper ADI ORDIT

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