Learning by trial and error remains extremely effective. Therefore, feedback continues to prove its value. But, mistakes cannot be undone. Most of the time, the person that made a mistake is aware of what went wrong. He or she feels like there’s no need to be lectured on the matter. That said; why not focus on the future whilst conducting continuous dialogue? The future can be shaped, the past on the contrary. ‘Feedforward’ is feedback, but focussed on the future. It is positively formulated and focuses on changing future behaviour.
By emphasising employee’s talents and achievements, employees feel encouraged and are energized towards working on further developing themselves. The chances of behaviour change by feedforward are great due to:
- Its positive intentions;
- Its focus on desired behaviour;
- And its assumption of a positive learning environment.
Marshall Goldsmith, an expert in the field of feedforward, has developed the feedforward method. During organized sessions, everyone that participates rotates and performs both a feedforward giver and receiver role. The method consists of the following steps:
- Pick a certain behaviour that you would like to change. For example: “I would like to deliver a greater contribution to team meetings.”
- Describe the desired behaviour in one on one conversations to all participants of the session.
- During each one on one, ask for two suggestions that will help you reach positive improvement. You react, but at most you are allowed to ask for a clarification.
- After expressing your thanks, it’s the other participants’ turn to describe the behaviour they would like to change.
- At the end of the session, every participant expresses what, when and how they are going to change, and what kind of effect it will have on the goal they are trying to reach.
Feedback can also be a sincere compliment. Just like providing feedforward, compliments motivate the recipient to exhibit the appreciated behaviour.
Every employee feels the need to be appreciated for the work they do. This need can be especially present if development steps have been made. A sincere compliment shows that the development or improvement has been noticed, which plays a substantial role in the perpetuation of the newly developed behaviour. It is important, however, that this compliment is formulated specifically and precise. Compliments such as a random: ‘well done’ will not achieve the earlier described reinforcement.
During an experiment in which children were asked to solve several puzzles, it was uncovered that children that received a compliment on performance (i.e. you’ve done that quickly) would choose an easier puzzle in the next round of the experiment in comparison to the puzzle they chose before they had received this compliment. Children that were complimented on their performance seemed to think they had to show initial performance again to live up to expectations. Children who received a compliment on process (i.e. great to see you starting at the corners of the puzzle, it seems like you’ve created a good strategy for yourself) would choose a more difficult puzzle in the next round of the experiment, in comparison to the puzzle they chose before they received this compliment. Children that were complimented on their process seemed to have learned that their strategy was good and that it would also apply in future situations. Therefore, the level of difficulty would not matter in future puzzles. They would be solved with their strategy, no matter the level of difficulty.
Kjaer Group, a Danish company that sells cars in developing countries, introduced the ‘Order of the Elephant’ a couple of years ago. It is a gigantic cuddly toy that employees can award each other when they deserve a compliment. It is a truly gigantic toy, meaning everyone sees it sitting at your desk and will ask: ‘What did you do to deserve the elephant?’
In this way, the greatest stories and tips will always be told. Again and again.
Source: Book ‘12 dingen die je moet weten over gelukkig werken’
360 degrees feedback
The people that you work with on a daily basis, are a valuable source of information on how your presentations are received, what people think of the way you act, the way you work together with them and the way you communicate. Why wouldn’t you ask others about their perception after a presentation you’ve done, or after a work shift together? To create a moment in which you look back together and reflect.
By means of input on the following questions by colleagues, but also of external clients or project workers for example, the feedback receiver has a new starting point from which their performance, attitude and behaviour can further develop:
- What am I doing right and should continue doing?
- What behaviour should I exhibit more often?
- And what behaviour should I exhibit less or should I stop showing completely?
Another variation on how to retrieve this information is by asking questions about the following two topics:
- Please let me know what I am doing that you think is great. What do you appreciate about the way I work and my work ethics? What would you like to see me do even more than I already do?
- Please let me know how I can improve. What do you miss in the way I work? Which behaviour do I exhibit too much of, or when should I take a step back?
An extremely useful way to document and gather 360 degree feedback is by using the TruQu feedback tool. TruQu functions as a personal trainer, that’s always there to motivate you. By helping you set your development goals, gather feedback and reflect in short cycles, it is a coach for continuous learning.
Feedforward, compliments and 360 degrees feedback are great and powerful energizers for improving your performance and the development of employees.
Author: Jacco van den Berg, Van den Berg Training & Advies
Author of the book ‘Het Nieuwe Beoordelen’.
Next year its sequel will be published:‘Het Prestatiemenu’.