Give Feedback, and Go Beyond It

It is irrational to expect someone to change his or her behavior based on nonexistent feedback. – John A. Allison

I’ve often heard, and sometimes said, “You can only fix the problems you know about.”

While I could go into awareness and the importance of paying attention and asking good questions, I’d rather alert you to the value of discussing things with people – things that matter.

People want to get better, they want to be connected and they want to be valued.

If you’re in a position to help people understand their actions and performance, it’s a gift – and in some respects a duty on your part – to share your observations and engage them in a dialogue on what they’re doing and what they might do differently (and better). (Assuming, of course, it’s appropriate and welcome.)

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Okay, that’s all well and good, but why don’t more do this, and why do some do it so poorly?

Because they give feed-back (purposeful emphasis on back).

What if there were a way to create conversations that both parties could feel good about?

What if the “instigator” could look forward to it as much as the person being “counseled?”

There’s a way: feed-forward.

Marshall Goldsmith created the idea of “feed-forward” conversations.

Where, without ignoring reality or needed improvements, the focus is on what’s happened, what’s needed and what can be done (what can be agreed on) to improve the situation.

With feed-forward, the emphasis in moving forward – not what’s back.

Ideally, it’s a “coaching” conversation where both parties are there willingly and agree to speak openly and honestly about what’s happened and what’s needed – and that commitments are created and not coerced.

If you’re a manager, consider having feed-forward sessions with your charges and if you want to change your 1-0n-1s and weekly meetings with the “boss,” ask that the “feed-forward” model be incorporated into your next meeting.

It’ll make all the difference.

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