Oct 19, 2011

Feedback vs. Feedforward

When it comes to developing and growing in your career, there is feedback and there is feedforward. Both are valuable.

Feedback lets you know how you did.  Whether or not you met expectations.  What you did or didn't do well.  Feedback is usually done during your performance evaluation, or to correct poor performance.

Feedback is something you expect to receive, but have you ever asked for feedforward?

Feedforward, a term coined by Marshall Goldsmith, focuses on suggestions to change future behaviors.  Valuable information you can use to prepare for your next position.

When asking for feedforward, identify one or two behaviors/skills you would like to develop.  Then ask your manager, mentor, and/or trusted colleagues the following:

"I would like to work on developing/improving ___________, (i.e., negotiating skills, listening skills, etc.)."

  • "What should I stop doing?"
  • "What should I start doing?"  
  • "What should I continue doing?"  

Once you have asked each question, your job is to listen, and write down the suggestions provided.  If you try to explain or justify, they will not feel comfortable providing feedforward the next time you ask.  Thank the person at the end of the discussion, and let them know that you appreciate their candor.  Remember, both feedback and feedforward are valuable to your career growth and development.

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