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Revolutionizing Feedback: Embracing “Feedforward” for Employee Growth

In the world of performance reviews and employee development, a new buzzword is making waves – “feedforward.” This innovative approach is changing the way workplaces provide feedback and guidance to their employees, offering a refreshing perspective on personal and professional growth.

What is Feedforward?

Unlike traditional feedback, which dwells on the past and often leaves employees feeling criticized or defensive, feedforward is forward-facing and solution-oriented. Karen Leal, a performance specialist at Insperity in Houston, Texas, explains that feedforward focuses on providing constructive suggestions for the future. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, it offers employees insights on how to improve and excel moving forward.

A Shift in Perspective

Feedforward serves as a guiding light, helping employees envision their path to success and the steps needed to get there. By concentrating on future achievements rather than past errors, it empowers individuals to harness their full potential. This shift in perspective is gaining traction in various workplaces, with managers and employees alike embracing the concept.

A Familiar Concept with a New Name

While the term “feedforward” may be trendy, its core principles have been around for years. In fact, many managers have unknowingly been providing feedforward without labeling it as such. The beauty of this approach lies in its simplicity and effectiveness – it encourages open communication and growth without the baggage of past mistakes.

The Gentler Path to Growth

One of the key advantages of feedforward is its gentleness. Traditional feedback can often feel like a reprimand or a spotlight on past failures. In contrast, feedforward is a kinder and more motivating way to nurture talent and foster improvement. Michelle Reisdorf, district president for Robert Half in Chicago, notes that employees are more likely to embrace feedforward as a means to set goals and discuss their career progression.

Setting Clear Expectations

A successful feedforward session involves setting clear expectations for future behaviors and outcomes. Managers play a crucial role in equipping employees with the resources and guidance needed to achieve these goals. By focusing on how an employee can grow and succeed in the future, feedforward becomes a catalyst for professional development.

A Step Forward, Not a Replacement

Feedforward doesn’t seek to replace traditional performance reviews or feedback conversations entirely. Instead, it complements them by offering a more encouraging and growth-oriented perspective. Employers and workers should maintain open lines of communication to ensure that mistakes are acknowledged and learning opportunities are seized.

Embracing Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

While feedforward provides a gentler approach to feedback, it’s essential to remember that growth often springs from learning from one’s mistakes. Michelle Reisdorf emphasizes that constructive criticism, delivered in a respectful manner, remains an integral part of personal and professional development. Without it, progress can stagnate.

In conclusion, the concept of feedforward is revolutionizing the way workplaces approach employee growth and development. By focusing on the future, providing constructive guidance, and setting clear expectations, it offers a more encouraging and effective approach to nurturing talent. While it may not replace traditional feedback entirely, it serves as a valuable addition to the toolkit of managers and employees alike, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and success.

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