You’ve heard of feedback and you know how valuable it is for improving workplace performance, communication and boosting employee morale. But there’s another valuable practice for your workplace - feedforward.
Today, we’ll show you what feedforward is, what kind of value it brings to the workplace and what makes it different from feedback.
What is feedforward?
Feedforward is a type of feedback that focuses on the future rather than the past. It’s forward-thinking and helps employees to set goals and achieve them. Feedforward is about giving advice and suggestions on how someone can improve in the future, rather than critiquing their past performance.
What’s the difference between feedback and feedforward?
The main difference between feedback and feedforward is that feedback is focused on the past, while feedforward is focused on the future. Feedback looks at what someone has done wrong and how they can improve, while feedforward looks at what someone can do to improve in the future.
Feedback vs Feedforward: Which is more effective?
Feedforward is more effective than feedback because it helps employees to set goals and achieve them. Feedback can be useful for critiquing past performance, but it doesn’t help employees to improve in the future. Feedforward is also more positive than feedback, which can be seen as negative and critical.
In terms of future development, feedforward is no longer just a choice – it should be a standard part of your feedback process.
What are the benefits of feedforward?
There are many benefits of feedforward, including:
• It helps employees to set goals and achieve them – with clear goals, employees can work towards improving their performance.
• It’s more positive than feedback – feedforward is focused on the future, so it’s more optimistic and encouraging. This can boost employee morale.
• It helps to improve communication – by giving suggestions on how someone can improve in the future, feedforward can help to improve communication between employees and managers.
• It’s more actionable than feedback – because feedforward is focused on the future, it’s more actionable than feedback, which can be seen as negative and critical. Also, by giving suggestions on how someone can improve, feedforward is more likely to result in positive change.
• It’s forward-thinking and focused on the future – when you’re focused on the future, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. And by giving employees suggestions on how they can improve, you’re helping them to develop their competencies and knowledge.
• It provides useful advice and suggestions – it's not just about telling employees what they did wrong, but also giving them useful advice and suggestions on how they can improve in the future. This may result in employees feeling more engaged and motivated.
Feedforward is a valuable feedback tool that can help to improve workplace performance, communication and employee morale. It’s forward-thinking, actionable and provides useful advice and suggestions.
If you’re looking to improve communication, improve a feedback process, and boost employee morale in your workplace, then you should consider implementing feedforward straight away.
The best practices for introducing feedforward into the workplace
#1 Instruct employees on the importance of feedforward
The first step to introducing feedforward into the workplace is to instruct employees on its importance. Explain to them how it can help them improve their performance and achieve their goals.
If you want to introduce feedforward into your workplace, start by educating your employees on its benefits.
The best way to give feedforward is to avoid general comments and be specific about the behavior you’re observing and what you suggest. For example, “I noticed that you were having trouble staying on task during the meeting. Maybe next time, try setting a timer for yourself to stay focused.”.
#2 Encourage employees to give and receive feedforward
Encourage employees to give and receive feedforward by creating an environment where it’s encouraged. Make sure to encourage employees to give feedforward to each other, and make sure that managers are giving feedforward to their subordinates.
One way to do this is to have a “Feedforward Friday” where employees are encouraged to give and receive feedforward.
Another way to encourage giving and receiving feedforward is to create an anonymous feedback form that employees can fill out for each other.
#3 Initiate a feedforward conversation
If you’re a manager, initiate a feedforward conversation with your subordinates. If you’re an employee, initiate a feedforward conversation with your manager.
A good way to start a feedforward conversation is to say something like, “I noticed that you did X. I think it would be helpful if you did Y in the future. What do you think?”.
Feedforward is a valuable tool for the workplace that can help employees improve their performance and achieve their goals – so if you initiate some kind of feedforward conversation in your workplace, you’re sure to see positive results.
How to conduct a feedforward assessment
#1 Set up goals and expectations
The first step to conducting a feedforward assessment is to set up goals and expectations. What do you want to achieve with this assessment? What are your goals?
Be clear about what you expect from employees, and make sure that they understand what’s expected of them. The best way to go about it is to set some sort of weekly, monthly and quarterly KPIs.
#2 Get the timing right
The second step is to choose the right time to conduct the assessment. You don’t want to do it too soon after a project has been completed, because employees will need some time to reflect on their performance. But you also don’t want to wait too long, because employees might forget what they did and how they could improve.
The best time to conduct a feedforward assessment is about two weeks after a project has been completed. This gives employees enough time to reflect on their performance, but not so much time that they forget the details.
In terms of ongoing feedforward, check-ins should be conducted every few months. Striking a good balance is crucial because asking for feedforward too often will make your employees overwhelmed, while doing it infrequently will cause you to lose precious input.
#3 Brainstorm ideas and their execution
You need to make sure that everyone in your workplace feels comfortable with giving and receiving feedback.
One way to do this is to brainstorm ideas with your employees about how they can improve their performance. This will help them to feel more comfortable with the idea of giving and receiving feedback. They should feel like their suggestions are being heard and valued.
It’s also important to brainstorm ideas about how to execute these suggestions. What are some practical ways that employees can implement these changes?
For example, if you want employees to be more punctual, you could suggest that they set a daily alarm for themselves. If you want them to be more organized, you could suggest that they use a planner.
Once you’ve brainstormed some ideas, it’s time to move on to the next step: setting up a plan.
#4 Don't just hear – listen and acknowledge
It’s not enough to just hear what employees are saying – you need to listen, and you need to acknowledge their suggestions.
Acknowledge that you’ve heard their suggestions, and tell them that you’re going to take them into consideration. Thank them for their input, and let them know that you appreciate their willingness to improve their performance.
It’s best if you can follow up with them and show that their suggestions are being used and that the company management is acting according to their feedforward information.
This step is important because it shows employees that you’re listening to them and that you value their suggestions. It also gives them the motivation to actually implement the changes they’ve suggested.
Without this step, your feedforward assessment will be less effective.
#5 Introduce "thank you" culture
Last but not least, you need to introduce a "thank you" culture in your workplace. Whenever an employee makes a suggestion, make sure to thank them for their input.
This will show employees that you appreciate their suggestions, and it will encourage them to continue giving feedback and feedforward in the future.
It might seem like a small gesture, but it can make a big difference in the way employees perceive feedback and feedforward.
Feedback is a crucial part of any organization, but it’s only effective if it’s given and received correctly. If you want to give feedback that will actually help employees improve their performance, you need to make sure that you’re doing it right.
Feedforward can be an extremely powerful tool, but only if it’s used correctly. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can make sure that your feedforward assessments are effective and helpful for both employees and your organization as a whole.