I’ve recently been asked for advice on how – or even whether – to give advice to others in the organization that “don’t report to me” but could use some coaching.

The “whether” question is easy – if your paycheck comes from the same organization as theirs you have a vested interest in helping everyone become the best they can be. There shouldn’t be silos that inhibit enterprise enhancement.

And, giving feedback to others involves taking a risk, one that is greater if you don’t have a hierarchical line to them giving implicit permission to do so. What I recommend is informally asking the person if they would like some feedback that you think would be helpful to them or if you could share a suggestion on how to approach something. By giving the person a choice and a bit of space before you jump right in, you help them become more open to hearing from you.

You could say something like: “Rosa, I see you struggling with that report. I’d be happy to share a few tips that have worked for me if you’d like – just let me know.” Or “Sam, I remember what it’s like to be new here. If you’d like to grab a coffee and hear some of my lessons learned, I’d be happy to do so.” Or “Whew, Simone, that was a rough meeting, wasn’t it? Let me know if you’d like to debrief.”

Feedback offered in a genuine spirit of helpfulness oftentimes gives us information about ourselves that others can see but of which we are blind. Be open to receiving the gift of feedback and be courageous enough to offer it.

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