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Coaching Changes You - Effective Coaching Focuses Primarily on Feedforward not Feedback

Updated on July 14, 2014

Feedforward as opposed to Giving Feedback

Giving feedback has long been considered an essential skill for leaders as they work to achieve the goals of the organization. Feedback lets employees know how they are doing and helps to ensure alignment on performance between leader / supervisor and employee. Feedback allows individuals to identify with what they have done well and what they need to change or improve upon.

There is a profound challenge with feedback in that it is focused on the past and not on the infinite possibilities of the future. Feedback can be static and limited as opposed to expansive, dynamic, and opportunity-filled.

Every coach can see the difference when focusing on feeding forward as opposed to only giving feedback.

There are different types of coaching in the workplace:

Coaching to Enhance Skills helps the individual to learn specific new skills, tools, and perspectives over time that are needed on the job.

Coaching for Performance focuses on an individual’s effectiveness in their current position. It is usually safe to say that individuals need to improve their skills in the current position prior to moving on to the next position.

Coaching for Development addresses an assessment of competencies required for a future role or position.

The Benefits of Coaching:

  • Coaching can augment an individual’s and an organization’s performance
  • Coaching is purposeful and intentional with the goal of raising performance
  • Coaching is an interpersonal process
  • Coaching should align with the culture and strategic priorities of the organization
  • Coaching can unlock an individual’s performance
  • Coaching can help to integrate different and diverse individuals in the workplace

Jamaica | Source

Reason to FeedForward

  1. We can change the future. While a manager / supervisor still has to provide some feedback to correct performance as appropriate. Much more time should be dedicated to “feeding forward.” We can’t change the past, feeding forward helps individuals focus on the positive possibilities, the opportunities, of the future.
  2. Focus on helping individuals to learn to do things “right” rather than prove they were wrong. Feeding forward focuses on solutions - not problems.
  3. Feeding forward is especially suited for people who are high performing. High performing individuals like to have individuals assist them to achieve their goals and are willing to go above and beyond.
  4. Feeding forward never sounds as judgmental and personal as feedback does. Feeding forward focuses on the performance, not the person. High performing individuals’ sense of identity is often highly connected with their work.
  5. Feedforward can often be delivered in a much faster and more efficient manner than feedback. Feedforward comes out as, “here are four ideas that can help to differentiate your performance going forward. Let’s talk about the benefits of working on these four areas.
  6. Feedforward can be provided by anyone…not just the manager / supervisor. It can be provided by a mentor, a peer, a friend, a family member, or even a spouse.
  7. Individuals also tend to listen more attentively to feedforward as opposed to feedback.
  8. Quality discussions and good communication between individuals at all levels of the organization (top down, across, and bottom up) leads to enhanced organizational performance.


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