Why feedforward is often more constructive than feedback.

Providing feedback has long been considered to be an essential skill for leaders.  As they strive to achieve the goals of the organisation, employees need to know how they are doing.  They need to know if their performance is in line with what their leaders expect

Just as employees need feedback from leaders, leaders can benefit from feedback from their employees.

But there is a fundamental problem with all types of feedback:  it focuses on the past – not on the endless opportunities that the future offers.   As such, feedback can be limited and static, as opposed to expansive and dynamic.

Famous author Marshall Goldsmith relates that over the past few years, he has observed more than thirty thousand leaders participate in a fascinating exercise.  The participants play two roles in the exercise.   In one role, they are asked to provide feedforward – that is, to give someone else suggestions for the future and help as much as they can. In the second role, they are asked to accept feedforward – that is, to listen to the suggestions for the future and learn as much as they can.

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