So, you want to be a Cash Flow Coach

CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK

Feedback is a key aspect in cash flow coaching, and constructive feedback is essential in building positive relationships and enabling better understanding between cash flow coach and client. Providing feedback will be part of most, if not all, cash flow coaching sessions. It prevents miscommunication, helps highlight and resolve problem areas and importantly, sets direction, expectations and goals for the next stage of the client’s journey.


The objective of constructive feedback is to support the client and provide guidance by relaying information in a useful way. It can either endorse good habits and behaviours or encourage clients to get back on track and perform in line with their goals.


Cash flow coaches will use constructive feedback to continually reinforce an ongoing message; when a specific area of discussion needs to be addressed; to provide corrective guidance; or to let the client know the consequences of their behaviours.


Making Feedback Constructive


For a cash flow coach, the skill in providing feedback is knowing when to provide it and how to best deliver it. When delivered well and in a timely manner, constructive feedback is a technique that builds the client’s resolve and confidence and reinforces that you are on the journey together.


The following nine areas are helpful in ensuring the feedback you deliver is constructive.


1. Be descriptive, not judgemental


Being descriptive means reporting what has occurred or happened. Being judgemental is evaluating what has transpired and voicing an opinion of whether it is ‘good or bad’/’right or wrong’. Clients can respond negatively and become defensive when they feel they are being evaluated and judged.

For example, instead of: -


“You spent too much last month – that’s not good.”


Rather: -


“Your cost to income ratio is greater than you targeted because the discretionary spending amount was higher than expected.”


2. Observation rather than Inference


Similarly, restrict your feedback to what you observe or what you hear during client sessions and conversations. Don’t make assumptions, interpretations or inferences. Focus on the facts and figures and what the client did, as opposed to trying to confront the client’s reasons and motivations.


For example, instead of: -


“It seems to me you lack self-control and spend too much when you go to the club on the weekend.”


Rather: -


“When you used funds from your fixed expenses account for discretionary spending at the club on the weekend, you pushed your cost to income ratio above where you wanted it to be.”


3. Focus on behaviours, not the person


When giving feedback, refer to the actions and don’t pigeon-hole or categorise the person. Describe the behaviours, rather than qualifying the individual.


For example, instead of: -


“You’re one of those people who feel they need to have a splurge or a binge every now and then.”


Rather: -


“Splurging will make it difficult to reach your cash flow goal.”


4. The future not the past


Focusing on the past is not constructive. Things that have happened can’t be changed and delving into why things occurred can make clients defensive and have them searching for excuses. A constructive approach looks for ways to make things different, next time around.


For example, instead of: -


“Why do you think you overspent last month?”


Rather: -


“What can you do to avoid it happening next month?”


5. Specifics not Generalisations


As a cash flow coach, it can be easy to generalise, especially when there appear to be patterns of behaviour. To make sure your feedback is constructive, you need to talk about the specifics of what has happened and try to find the root causes of issues and behaviours.


For example, instead of: -


“I see you encountered the same problems, as last month?”


Rather: -


“What happened?” (and if you get a general answer, ask for clarification of what they

mean.)


6. Balance


Cash flow coaches can fall into the trap of thinking that constructive feedback is only positive feedback. Whilst clients will be more receptive to positive comments that boost their confidence, without the balance of negative feedback impact can be lost. A well-timed comment about achieving better results or progressing faster can be the catalyst for increased effort.


7. Overload


There can be a number of areas of focus for a client during their cash flow coaching journey. However, if you overload the client with too many points during a session, they can become confused about what they need to change or improve. Selecting one or two important areas and concentrating your feedback on them leaves no room for doubt.


8. “I” Statements


There is a difference between “You didn’t go so well last month” and “From what I’m seeing, things didn’t go so well last month”. Whilst subtle, by using the second “I” statement, there is less inference and blame, and there are no assumptions about the client’s feelings or attitude (they may themselves feel things went pretty well).


By initiating discussions from your observational position, you can constructively raise behavioural issues and their consequences, as well as changes and how they may help. This approach leaves the door open for the client to resolve their own problems and instigate change.


9. Active Listening


Constructive feedback can be provided by not saying anything. Body language and expressions can convey understanding and agreement or divergence from the client’s statements. Active listening also includes:


  • Paraphrasing – restating or repeating the client’s words helps to demonstrate comprehension and avoids misunderstanding. It also enables the cash flow coach to hear their own thoughts and to start to consider their feedback.

  • Pausing – providing more time for the client to add something in addition to what has been said. This can be powerful and yield unexpected results, especially when the client is on the verge of expressing their feelings or emotions.

  • Clarifying – Even when you are fairly confident that you understand your client’s position, it never hurts to clarify and remove any guesswork. By asking relevant questions, you can ensure you are totally clear, and it also demonstrates your interest and focus.

  • Summarising – Summing up allows the clients to listen to what has been said and ensure both cash flow coach and client are on the same page. In addition, it provides a final opportunity to correct something or add what has not been raised.


The Six Steps of Constructive Feedback


When it’s time, during your cash flow coaching session, to give constructive feedback, the following six steps provide a basis for structuring the discussion.


Step 1 - Purpose


Start by indicating what you want to address and why it’s important. A purpose statement grabs the client’s attention and focusses their thinking on the matter at hand. “I” statements are useful in establishing purpose – “I want us to discuss”; “I’d like to know more about”; “I have some thoughts about”.


Step 2 - Observation


Describe specifically your observations and notations. This may be from analysing the client’s monthly figures prior to the meeting or a response to a client’s comments about a particular action or event. Stick to the facts and figures or use active listening to confirm and clarify the specific activities and outcomes.


Step 3 - Consequences


Describe your thoughts and opinions and examine the consequences of the activity or behaviour. As a cash flow coach, your reactions can be very powerful. Your client sees you as a partner in the journey, and when you describe your reactions and outline the consequences, the client can better appreciate the impact their actions have on their future state.


And this works for both positive reinforcement (“Wow, I’m so impressed by last months figures. By continuing like this you will be financially independent sooner than we first thought”) and negative feedback (“I was a bit concerned and disappointed with last months results. We will need to turn things around and get by on track so you will realise your goals of financial freedom”)


Step 4 - Response


At this point, you give your client the opportunity to respond. This is where a pause and the use of body language are useful. Remain silent, look the client in the eyes indicating you are waiting for their reaction and response. Alternatively, ask an open-ended question – “What do you think”; “What’s your reaction to this”; “Tell me your view of the situation”.


Step 5 - Suggestions


It is important to move things forward and look towards solutions, ways to improve the situation, maintain momentum or take things to the next level. Suggesting practical examples shows you are thinking ahead and want the client to come up with their own next steps. It is not the time to dwell on the past or rest on your laurels, but time to forge forward.


Step 6 - Summary


The final step is to summarise the discussion and importantly emphasise your support and partnership in the client’s cash flow coaching journey. Focus on the action items, not the behaviours that have happened to date, stressing the activities that will move the situation forward. Communicate confidence in your client’s ability to make positive changes or continue to meet the goals they have set.


Summarising also provides a checkpoint to ensure nothing has been missed or miscommunicated and that both cash flow coach and client are clear on what will happen next.



elevateB provides the training program as well as support and ongoing development for certified cash flow coaches. Individuals who choose to work with a certified cash flow coach are better placed to achieve financial independence and security. If you would like to make a difference and help everyday Australians be more financially prudent and savvy, consider becoming a cash flow coach today. Click here.

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