“Feedback is the breakfast of champions” (Ken Blanchard) “if palatable and digestible” (mine)
All athletes need them – coaches to assist with enhancing performance: tweaking movement techniques, giving feedback on past performances, reinforcing mental stamina, suggesting alterations to diet, building body mass, etc. This assistance makes the athletes deliver better results – exactly what the athletes want. The same should be true in the organisational environment where employees receive valuable information that assists with their growth and performance, however, this is not always the case, as much of the feedback they receive just focuses on that which was done incorrectly, inadequately, or insufficiently. Eventually, employees become feedback-resistant and lose hope in themselves and the leadership of the organisation.
Neuroscience expert, David Rock (Quiet Leadership) suggests that leaders consider a paradigm shift when it comes to the traditional manner of providing feedback. He is NOT suggesting that managers gloss over obvious mistakes and low performance issues, where direct developmental feedback is required. By focusing on the positive, however, Rock contends that managers will discover that most people handle the “negative” on their own – the premise: most people are so much tougher on themselves than others might be.
Feedforward handles what people would like to change in the future and explores ways to translate these into goals and commensurate actions. Feedback, conversely, focuses on performance problems that occurred in the past. Even when needing to give feedback on poor performance, the manager can turn the old “problem/tell” traditional monologue of developmental feedback into an “ask/solution”-focused dialogue by asking questions, such as:
- How can we discuss the issue in a solution-focused manner?
- How can this conversation be the most useful for you?
- What is the biggest insight you have had from what has happened?
- What have you learnt from this whole situation?
- What are you going to do differently next time?
- How will you go about this?
- Can you define any ways of which we may be able to help you?
Feedforward explores the positive, the future and what’s possible. It stretches the employee’s thinking, helps the employee take control and ownership of a possible solution and engenders hope. It assists the employee in becoming solution-centred in approach and excited about a potentially better future.