About the difference and importance of feedback and feedforward in teams leadership. 

 As we strive to reach the objectives of our organization, our coworkers need to (always) know which path we are going to follow, but also, and it's equally important, what is their level of performance and if they are meeting their leader's expectations or not.

Communication is the foundation of an efficient leadership and the ability to give feedback is a crucial skill; it's crucial to have an open communication flow, since well-trained and well-informed coworkers lead to a better performance in the business.

The etymology of the word communication, from the Latin communicare, means "make something common knowledge", "share", "confer". More than ever, taking into account the changes that occurred in the world of work in the (different) short amount of time we are currently living in, it's essential to consider the true meaning of the word "to communicate" while leading people.

There are no good reasons to avoid the creation of a communication culture within your organization, and feedback, as we all know, is a powerful tool that fosters real results and creates a strong and productive organizational culture. The best part? It's so easy! We just have to make the decision to create the habit of talking to the coworkers in a consistent and continuous way.

If the "descending feedback" - from the leaders to their coworkers - was, so far, the most common practice, the benefits of "ascending feedback" - from coworkers to their leaders - are an ever-growing requirement; they can, and must, participate in the (co) creation of alternatives and provide extremely useful information regarding the efficiency of procedures and processes of the organization.

Quality communication - between people from all levels and departments - is an agglutinative element in the organizations and, as a continuous process, it always must be carried out with intentionality, transparency and (bi) directionality.

And why not try feedforward?

Feedforward is a new approach to traditional feedback and was popularized by Goldsmith; it encourages people to focus their analysis and discussions on suggestions and actions for the future, so as to create a cooperation and sharing space, a space where people help each other, instead of focusing solely on the past and revisiting what didn't work.

The great difference between conventional feedback and feedforward is the distinct lens that will be used: seeing/thinking based on the past ou seeing/thinking based on the future. Conventional feedback is focused on the past, providing information regarding past activities and performances. In turn, feedforward is focused on the future, providing information about what each of us can do differently and better in the future.

Projecting to what we could be (doing) is constructive and fosters confidence, motivation as well as everyone's involvement.

One thing is certain: there are no mistakes and flaws to point out in the future!

If feedback can be limited, static and often focused on mistakes, on the other hand, feedforward is expansive and dynamic, and focused on what's to come.

This doesn't mean you should eradicate feedback from your follow-up and planning actions with your team.

The option might be hybrid - apply accordingly and harmoniously these two techniques and you will be able to understand the advantage of adding the feedforward: your actions will be focused in numerous possibilities for change, in the infinite multiplicity of opportunities that can arise in a (positive) future, counting on the participation of the most important people of your organization - those who will be directly affected and who will participate in the execution of the guidelines and in the decision-making process.

The advantages can be numerous:

  • Accountability - Reinforces the individual responsibility of the coworker who will have to report on his own projects, tasks, behaviors and engagements, providing support, guidance and direction.
  • Engagement - Fosters the involvement of coworkers - the greatest level of involvement is associated with a better performance, a lesser rotation and greater satisfaction rates amongst employees, who are essential elements for you to remain competitive.
  • Confidence and Development - this process will be a mutually beneficial learning experiment that helps the involved parties to develop new insights, that in turn will help to improve the performance of the organization, as a whole.

I must agree with Goldsmith: "It's more productive to help people learn how to be "right", than to prove they were "wrong".