Creating a feedforward culture

Following on from last month’s article of “feedback or feedforward?” let’s continue by exploring how to do feedforward well.

By giving feedforward in an effective way, you can start to create a culture where people feel comfortable to talk to each other about pretty much anything. What it comes down to is respectful and supportive transparency. By being open to feedforward and seeing it as a gift, we encourage others to share their feedforward. The more that happens, the more open conversations between people become and the more natural and non-threatening feedforward becomes.

It becomes part of the culture, a culture where honest feedforward helps people grow and develop, for the benefit of themselves as well as their colleagues and the organisation.

To create a feedforward culture you need to make feedforward part of your success strategy. You want to start giving and receiving feedback regularly, practice to openly share and discuss, and make that a habit.

WHY IT MATTERS

There are so many reasons to do it – how about this one: According to Gallup’s research on employee engagement, a key factor of engagement is getting recognition or praise for good work, every week.

Positive feedback is often overlooked, we tend to think more about feedback as something that’s given when things aren’t going great. And yet, positive feedforward is crucial and it’s also a great place to start when you want to build a healthy feedforward culture. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just tell them about something you have observed that has worked really well and has had an impact on you, the team and/or the wider organisation. Start small and start to see the effects. Another Gallup study shows that both productivity and profitability increases when managers are given strengths feedback.

HOW TO DO FEEDFORWARD WELL

So let’s have a look at some proven ways to give and receive feedforward well.

When giving feedforward

(as per our TOP Feedforward Model below)

  • Be friendly sincere yet professional
  • Share what you have observed the other person do (behaviours)
  • Tell them what the impact of their behaviour is (positive or negative) – on the team, on the organisation and/or on you
  • Make suggestions for what they could do next time (eg. more of the same or something different)
TOP Feedforward Model™
©Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn

Here’s an example of how it could sound

“Thanks so much for getting us all organised and together for that meeting, it was a really good meeting. The part that you played was important, you kept us on track and sent us all the details in advance. It helped us to be more efficient and get to the point quickly. I appreciate how organised you are and how you manage to do it in a very positive way. The way it affects me personally is it makes me feel comfortable that you have everything covered and I can relax. The team is comfortable with it too and this allows us to be more efficient in the wider organisation, so thank you – and keep doing it!”

When receiving feedforward

  • Start by assuming positive intent. Assume they mean well. The person could have NOT told you and then you would have been none the wiser about your impact
  • Listen with an open mind. Hear them out, don’t be too quick to jump in and try to disprove what they are saying. Don’t defend it. If a person is sharing feedforward with you, they have observed something that you may not have – keep an open mind. If it’s unclear to you, ask questions to find out more. This is also true for positive feedforward
  • Sometimes we don’t take positive observations seriously enough, waving it away, maybe even feeling uncomfortable about praise. The advice is this: if someone has taken the time to share, show them that you appreciate the interest and support by really listening and taking the information onboard
  • If you don’t acknowledge the feedforward given to you, you are in danger of creating a vicious cycle of people avoiding giving you feedforward and the next time they won’t. If you dismiss the positive feedforward with a wave of the hand they won’t do it again as it could feel like you didn’t take the feedforward in and after all it may have been quite difficult for them to do it in the first place
  • Thank the person for the feedforward. Let’s face it, it might have been hard for them to do, but they did it anyway – for you
  • Consider what to do with the information you’ve been given. Not all feedforward needs to be acted upon, but you would do well to at least reflect on what you’ve learned and decide if it’s valid, actionable and crucial for achieving success. Just like a birthday gift, it is your choice what you do with it, some you love and take onboard, some you say thanks and maybe don’t use, some you choose to do nothing with or just let go of

CAREER BUILDING

Feedforward is not just about here and now, it’s career building. By getting feedforward, continuous learning happens, which helps people grow, progress and stay ahead.

We all need to know how we are doing, how we and our actions and behaviours are perceived by others. Flying blind is not a good idea. We need the feedforward of others, and they need ours.

So make feedforward part of your success strategy and habits – for you and those you work with. Give it helpfully and respectfully and receive it gratefully and with an open mind.

Start today and enjoy the results – it starts with you.

Author: Mandy and Elisabet

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