I just learned a new buzzword, and while we could all do with a lot less office jargon, this is one that should catch on—and it has nothing to do with silos, low hanging fruit, or bandwidth. Thank goodness! The word is feedforward: someone’s clever re-thinking of the word feedback. Why am I so excited about it? Because the typical focus of feedback is on past behavior—we’re looking back on a moment and commenting on it. But, we can’t do anything useful with the past; we can only give guidance for the future. Even if we need to reference an earlier occurrence, we still need to think of it in terms of how it will affect what happens moving forward. Quite the a-ha, huh?
What is the purpose of giving feedback/forward if not to achieve a result? When you think about your team, in what ways can you support their development through your commentary? Here are our most productive approaches:
Constructive. To me, this is the most neutral of techniques. It isn’t necessarily positive or negative, it simply is. Its purpose is to encourage growth using advice, coaching, and mentoring. It is educational in nature and intended to spur progress in a judgment-free zone. Through your examples and suggestions, you guide behaviors in the direction you want them to go.
Corrective. Mistakes happen. Errors occur. Senses sometimes lapse. When they do, the worst action you can take is one that is punitive. Instead, view these occasions as opportunities. How can both you and your employees contribute to preventing mishaps in the future? When you create an environment that values mutual responsibility, ownership, and learning, you can much more easily recover and move on to better outcomes down the road.Congratulatory. This is the fun one, but just because you’re going to enjoy it doesn’t mean there isn’t some work involved in getting it right. When you’re happy with your employees’ work, you need to know why you are, what it means to your company, and how to articulate it. At Baudville, we tie most of our praise to our I.N.S.P.I.R.E. core values: integrity, nurture, share, perform, innovate, respond, and excel. These values govern what success looks like to us, and they give us a straightforward way to give recognition with meaning.
The next time you need to give feedback, consider feeding forward instead. And, if you need more ideas on how to do it well, check out these great articles:
Allison is currently living out the elaborate fantasy she described to her now-former staff and colleagues in early 2001. With a hearty dose of courage and absolutely no plan of action, she abruptly left her middle-management job to become a writer—and today she is doing just that in her role as Baudville's Senior Content Writer. She's here to tell you everything she's learned in her 20-years+ professional life, plus a lot more. She's wordy like that!