‍Feedforward Is The New Effective Feedback

Feedforward is the new and better alternative to feedback. It provides solutions while highlighting the problem.

 min. read
August 8, 2022
‍Feedforward Is The New Effective Feedback

Since the beginning of time, feedback has been a crucial part of all formal channels of communication in an organization. The human brain receives, analyses and reciprocates in the form of feedback. The process of giving constructive suggestions to your employees through their reporting managers, supervisors and peers is called Employee Feedback. It helps employees learn from past experiences and improve team functionality with a futuristic vision. 

According to Forbes, 73% of employees appreciate the feedback they receive, whereas, only one-third receive it. Managers tend to avoid falling into the dungeon of providing reviews or effective feedback for fear of ruining their work culture. 

A systematically designed feedback process helps decode the complexities of fellow employees, guide them to improve their services. Formal feedback is meant to be primarily professional – to upskill and enhance productivity; it should not be taken personally. The feedback that is given personally should not be considered useful as it can be demeaning, lost and highly demotivational.

Is feedback the only way to provide constructive criticism? 

Feedback is a traditional, perhaps outdated way to put an employee review system in place. The moderns have a new system in place to replace feedback, called ‘Feedforward’ – it was developed by the business educator and coach, Marshall Goldsmith. 

People need to know how they are performing. Tell them about 

  • How they are performing 
  • How can they improve
  • Suggest improvements
  • Fuel better brainstorming sessions for new projects 
  • Provide inputs on overall performance 

It takes effort to create a positive environment for your employees to flourish personally and professionally. With feedforward being the new, effective feedback, let’s work on how we can improve our employees’ performance. Read along to know how!

How is feedforward different from feedback?

While feedback provides the employees with information about how they performed in the past, feedforward works as reverse psychology. 

Feedforward is usually used to 

  • Have a futuristic vision 
  • Replaces positive or negative feedback with solution-oriented suggestions 
  • It talks about the future instead of the past.

Feedback vs Feedforward

Why does feedback feel outdated?

With the changing work culture, employees find the traditional channels of feedback redundant and restrictive. It merely pinpoints the problems, without providing a solution.

Here’s why feedback can keep your employees stuck in the past -

It fuels the defense mechanism

When humans are proposed with feedback, they are made to count the errors. The brain puts on its defense mechanism that disables our rational decision-making processes that are responsible for executive functions and execution, leaving us in mental paralysis.

It would be practical to replace your feedback with constructive criticism, and pitch in an alternative or a solution to the problem in front of you.

It highlights the primary ratings instead of learning

Feedback mainly highlights the ‘star employee’ – gives them ratings and establishes standards. It does not provide ways to reach that standard. 

Feedforward focuses on ways to work on learnings from the past and allows holistic improvement.

- If fuels helplessness & might work against your team

When mistakes from the past are pointed out, it makes your employees feel helpless. Instead of focusing on improving the work, feedback merely pinpoints the mistakes without giving a solution.

The human brain does not like to be told about errors. Its defense mechanism builds up a wall of justifications instead of a learning approach for the future. This can work against your team’s progress. Feedback also leads to a lot of back & forth on the same task.

Allow your employees to work on alternatives, take suggestions and improve their cross-functionality. Feedforward also encourages the employees to ask for help in case of a dead end, and also to open-mindedly lend a helping hand.

Why are companies replacing feedback with feedforward?

To promote a healthy work environment, you need to bring a change. 

Try a new approach of sharing reviews, monthly reports and performance analyses in a scheduled manner instead of passing by comments. Here’s why feedforward helps better to improve employee performance

- It encourages talent

It leads to a ‘scope for improvement’ outlook instead of letting the mistakes sink in. For instance - when you notice an employee developing strength or an interest in a field, give them the opportunity to execute it in a new project. 

With feedforward, you will be able to identify new talents and encourage employees to take up more creative work.

- It opens an array of possibilities

An attitude to expand on prospective possibilities and execute new approaches may encourage your employees to upskill.

An effective practice would be to never point out a problem in team meetings without proposing an alternative – face a problem with an executable “What if?”. Feedforward always works as a criticism sandwiched with appreciation and encouragement.

Rather than shooting down ideas that might not work, use them as effective feedback for a brainstorming session, and come up with what might work – this way, you will never lose your employee’s interest and investment in the project.

It pinpoints instead of dumping obsolete information

Feedback sessions are often seen as a ‘redundant information dump’ with a lot of parameters to be measured. This can be rather ineffective in a person’s growth in case of impersonal criticism and established work standards. Feedforward allows the managers to strategically pick up character traits and problems, and solve them in collaboration with the employees themselves.

Here’s a healthy practice you can start with – instead of waiting for a project to get over, provide feedforward and improvements during weekly meetings, parameters to work on and a collaborative method to enhance the workflow. This way you can avoid a negative feedback session at the end of the project and also work on problems in real-time instead of later.

When it comes to telling people how to improve, there is no straightforward way. Instead of making them feel bad for their past mistakes or surprising them with impersonal criticism, give them a futuristic and strategic analysis of their work. It helps them improve for the future instead of trying to correct or rewrite the past. Meetly provides a collaborative platform for having team discussions and also personal conversations. Discussions are always better than one-way communication. Have early access to Meetly, and indulge in collaborations with this google chrome extension