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Forget Employee Feedback, ‘Feedforward’ Is the Latest Workplace Trend — If You’re Not Doing It, You Might Be Irrelevant Already



In the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace, adaptability and innovation are paramount. One such innovation that has been gaining traction in recent years is the concept of “feedforward.” As the name suggests, it’s a forward-focused approach to workplace communication and improvement, offering a fresh perspective that challenges traditional feedback methods. In this article, we’ll explore what feedforward is, why it matters, and how it can reshape the way organizations and individuals grow and thrive.

Understanding Feedforward:

Feedforward, a term coined by Marshall Goldsmith, renowned leadership coach and author, is essentially the opposite of feedback. While feedback involves analyzing past performance and offering critique, feedforward looks ahead to identify opportunities for future improvement. It’s a proactive, solution-oriented approach that focuses on what can be done differently moving forward.

The Limitations of Feedback:

Traditional feedback often has its limitations. It can be emotionally charged, focusing on past mistakes or shortcomings, which can demotivate employees and hinder their growth. Additionally, feedback can be biased, and the “sandwich” approach (delivering negative feedback between two positive comments) may dilute the message.

Why Feedforward Matters:

  1. Positivity and Empowerment: Feedforward emphasizes positive reinforcement and empowers individuals to take control of their development. Instead of dwelling on past errors, it encourages employees to envision a better future.
  2. Fosters Open Communication: Feedforward creates a safe space for open and honest dialogue. Employees are more likely to participate in constructive conversations when they feel they won’t be judged based on past performance.
  3. Continuous Improvement: This approach promotes a culture of continuous improvement. By focusing on future actions and behaviors, organizations can evolve and adapt to changing circumstances more effectively.
  4. Enhances Personal Growth: Feedforward is a tool for personal and professional development. It allows employees to set goals, seek advice, and take proactive steps toward achieving their aspirations.

Implementing Feedforward in the Workplace:

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Start by defining clear goals and expectations for the individual or team receiving feedforward. What specific areas are they looking to improve?
  2. Structured Conversations: Hold regular feedforward sessions or meetings where employees can discuss their goals and receive input from peers, mentors, or supervisors.
  3. Focus on Solutions: During these conversations, encourage participants to propose actionable solutions and strategies for achieving their goals. Avoid dwelling on past mistakes.
  4. Support and Accountability: Provide the necessary support and resources to help employees work toward their objectives. Create a system of accountability to track progress.
  5. Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate successes and milestones achieved through the feedforward process to maintain motivation and enthusiasm.

Embracing the Future with Feedforward:

As the workplace evolves, so too must our approaches to communication and development. Feedforward offers a forward-looking, solution-oriented alternative to traditional feedback, promoting positive change, fostering open dialogue, and empowering individuals to achieve their full potential.

By incorporating feedforward into your workplace culture, you can stay relevant in an ever-changing world where adaptability and continuous improvement are key to success. In doing so, you’ll not only empower your employees but also position your organization for a brighter and more innovative future. In the era of feedforward, the possibilities for growth and development are boundless, and those who embrace it may find themselves leading the way into a new era of workplace excellence.

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