People can respond negatively to constructive feedback – so feedforward instead.

When we provide feedback to an employee, we share information in terms of how they are currently performing. When negative feedback is given, the individual can respond defensively. Even constructive feedback can be taken the wrong way. 

The idea of feedforward is to replace constructive or negative (or any) feedback with future-oriented solutions. In simple terms, it is all about focusing on the future instead of the past. Feedforward is all about providing clear guidance on future goals and objectives without offering positive or negative criticism. Feedforward provides ideas on how people can succeed in the future which can be influenced by the right behaviours, rather than dwell on failures of the past that cannot be changed.

Feedforward empowers your team to contribute to meaningful objectives and gives them something tangible to work towards. Rather than giving negative feedback to an employee who makes a mistake i.e. “you did this incorrectly”, you can discuss how they can complete the task in a more efficient way in the future. 

From a manager’s perspective, it is usually more productive to help people learn to be right rather than prove where they were wrong. Feedforward tends to work well in successful, highly motivated teams. This is because high performing individuals like getting ideas that are aimed at helping them to achieve their future goals. Moving to a feed-forward approach means a shift in management style – a coaching style works best with feedforward. This requires catching up with your team members each month to feed-forward on ways to improve. For example, if a team member doesn’t engage in conversation in weekly team meetings, rather than criticise them, you can coach and encourage them to participate more.

Feedforward moves the focus away from the individual towards future performance. It doesn’t involve personal critique and sets people on a course to achieve their goals.

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