We’ve all been there.  An annual sit down with our boss who proceeds to give us feedback on what we have done right and wrong over the past months or worse years! It is an exercise that never brings positive results unless it is paired with feedforward.  Feedforward is a term I first heard from Marshall Goldsmith the guru in executive coaching and author of  What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There.

Marshall’s point is that feedback focuses on the past which can’t be changed.  Why not focus on the future and what changes you can make that can alter future results for you both personally and professionally?

Here are some questions I use with my coaching clients that focus on the future that you can use the next time you are leading managing a person or team after identifying the past problem.  The example I am going to use is a case where the manager didn’t like to have meetings because they frustrated him. As we explored his frustration it was brought out that the meetings were focused on past results and many of the items reviewed could have been done by email or phone.

So here are some of the questions I asked:

How can the meeting be structured so that the discussions are focused on the future?

  • What can you do before the meeting to keep it focused on the future?
  • What behaviors do you have that can derail the process?
  • How do you keep these behaviors in check during the meeting?
  • How will you feel when you have a successful meeting?
  • If you are unable to make this happen, what will be the impact to you and the organization moving forward?

So next time you are stuck in the past, switch gears and feedforward!

Check out Marshall Goldsmith’s book “What got you here, Won’t get you there”

Image provided be The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu)