12. Feedforward: Looking towards the future

Feedforward Instead of Feedback
by Marshall Goldsmith

One of the tasks most educators do throughout the day is giving feedback. Such feedback is based on student work that has been done well; therefore, teachers praise students. But in some cases, such work needs to be improved or corrected. This feedback is judgmental and leads students to feel unmotivated. This also happens with co-workers. Collaborating with others when expectations are not the same might cause the other person to feel hurt when feedback – that is judgmental and in the past – is given. This is often called backward-looking feedback because the individual is asked about a task that was performed in the past. As an educator, this is the feedback that I usually give my students. However, feedforward is a different way to provide feedback. This concept was originally developed by a management expert named Marshall Goldsmith. Feedforward will not shut down our mental processing. When receiving negative feedback our brains receives a threat awareness and gets in defensive mode. With feedforward, I can help my students see opportunities for growth because the process “helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past.” ( Goldsmith, 2015). When wanting to receive feedback, an individual may follow these steps:

  1. Select one behavior that the individual wants to change and describe it to that person who is willing to be part of the feedforward process.
  2. Now the individual is ready to listen attentively to a suggestion that moves him/her towards a positive change in behavior in the future.

Feedforward is a way to provide effective feedback that will expand possibilities for the person receiving the non-judgmental suggestions. Moving from feedback to feedforward requires changing your mindset. It will take time but in the end, the process will move people towards positive change.

Goldsmith, M. (2015, October). Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback – Marshall Goldsmith. Marshall Goldsmith. https://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/articles/try-feedforward-instead-feedback/

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