In case of successful people the problem becomes manifold. They do not want to hear negative feedback and feedback providers are reluctant to share negative feedback with them. There is a huge delusion about their achievements and no matter howsoever we focus on the task, they would retort with data showing great results.
There is also a concern typically heighted in 360 degree, when Organizations choose the feedback provider, that the person giving the feedback is not conversant with the challenges involved in the participant’s role .In the reverse scenario, there is always a danger of data contamination as there are cultures where people are reluctant to share shortcomings especially when it is not anonymous. Maintaining relationships or having superficial congeniality is paramount.
The transition from good to great is not something easily felt when an outsider shares data. The other issue around feedback is that it focuses on past data or lag indicators. Sharing negative feedback becomes a major issue because it is focussing on the failed past data and it is reinforcing the failure. We can’t change the past; we can only architect the future. With negative feedback, energy to architect the future diminishes as the participant perceives it as a criticism notwithstanding all the precautions taken.
It also tells us what to change but not how to change.This is not to state that feedback is not important. Without a system of feedback, we would not be able to have any gap analysis and this would put brakes on progress.
As the name suggests, it focuses on future and more importantly in creating the future. This is unlike, feedback, which focuses exclusively on the past. It indicates a desired future behavior or path to a goal. Feed forward provides information, images, etc. exclusively about what one could do right in the future, often in contrast to what one has done in the past. The feed forward method of teaching and learning is in contrast to feedback because it focuses on learning in the future, whereas feedback uses information from a past event to provide reflection and the basis for behaving and thinking differently. How do we create the future? We create it by
a) asking for suggestions for future,
b) listening to ideas and
c) just acknowledging.
Just to share an example.
You might want to improve on your listening ability. This is something which would make a change to your life.
- Share your goal with all whom you are in touch with and ask each of them for two suggestions for your future that would help you achieve a positive change on listening. What are the behaviours I need to demonstrate which would meet my objective of being a good listener? He might respond, do not interrupt when someone is speaking irrespective of agreement/disagreement.
- We listen to the ideas suggested attentively .We do not judge or filter or critique. Listening without judging is the key.
- We acknowledge each and every provider of ideas.
- We act.
Feed-forward : Uniqueness and advantages
- It lets go of the past without being too much consumed by it.
- It focuses on the solutions and not on problems or where we went wrong.
- It forces us to ask and this expands the circle of influence
- Enhances relationship and stake in each other.
- Avoids situations which may give rise to defensive behaviour. Feedback can reinforce stereotypes. People have little reasons to take feed-forward personally.
- No threat or pain in the process.
- It avoids driving by looking at the rear window which traditional feedback process does.
- Fosters and promotes us to ask and in this process enlarges our touch points.
- Avoids situations where successful people find it difficult to seek data on where they went wrong or people find it difficult to share to successful people where they went wrong. Often, available data does not provide any clue for that.
- Instead of asking where we went wrong, it is easier for successful people to ask how do we move from good to great?
- Data shared is very specific and easier to act. It forces us to think hard before suggesting way forward.
- We can change the future but not the past.
- It helps us to envision and focus on a positive future not a failed fast. This way we increase the chances of achieving greater success in future.
Timothy Galleway in his “inner game of tennis” talks of letting go of judgements and trusting oneself with detached interest. He goes on to say the benefits to your game come not from analyzing the strokes of top players, but from concentrating without thinking and simply letting yourself absorb the images before you. Absorption of images comes from envisioning which is an important element of feed- forward.
Feed-forward being futuristic oriented meshes in very well with the concept of Coaching. While, feedback can provide us some past data on performance, it does not lead to any significant shifts. Feed-forward, on the other hand, is improvement oriented. The key to its Success lies in powerful questioning and herein below some suggested questions are provided. Possible feed-forward questions in Coaching Context.
- What are some things that you do well with respect to managing the team?
- What are the areas you need to improve on with respect to managing the team?
- What improvements would you like to see in the way you influence key stakeholders?
- What can help you in your developing yourself professionally?
- What changes would you like to see in the way you communicate and interact with your team and peers?
Marshall Goldsmith : “ What got you here, will not get you there”. Timothy Gallway : “Inner game of tennis”