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FeedForward

As I wrote last week: In fact, feedback is nothing more than informing each other according to some rules of conduct, about what you think of someone else’s behavior in the past. However, there are four problems concerning feedback, due to which it is rarely applied:
  1. Feedback is always difficult to give. Although it is a relatively easy technique, the person who has to give it, finds it difficult. Most of the time, (s)he can give it, but simply doesn’t want to.
  2. Feedback is difficult to receive. Our first reaction is to defend ourselves, perhaps to attack the person giving it and to take this feedback personal;
  3. Successful people consider it unpleasant that someone ‘proves’ that they didn’t do things well in the past;
  4. Finally, feedback is a technique focusing on the past, which we can’t change anymore. Moreover, we already tend to focus on the past too much and not to focus enough on the future.
I believe that we have to focus on what we can influence: the future! A FeedForward exercise for successful people, often leading to good results, is the following:
  1. A group of people write down one of their behavioral patterns they want to improve. For instance: ‘don’t judge too fast’ or ‘learn to listen more carefully’.
  2. Hereafter, somebody has a five-minute conversation with someone else and asks: ‘I want to learn to judge more slowly during conversations. What is your advice for me?
  3. Afterwards, his conversation partner makes some suggestions about ways to do that. The receiver writes down these suggestions and only replies by saying ‘thank you!. At that moment, clarifying questions are the only questions allowed. No interpretation or discussion.
  4. The roles are changed and the other conversation partner mentions which behavior (s)he wants to change. After this, his or her conversation partner makes some suggestions for improvement.
  5. After five minutes, everybody has to look for another conversation partner and this process can be repeated several times.
This way, someone can in no time collect a huge number of suggestions about behavior types which could help to become even more effective in the future. An improvement of 'the how'.

Changing your behavior is not easy, requires hard work as well as introspection and is definitely not a 'quick win'. We tend to act exactly as we used to do in the past; effectively or not. And still, it is often in spite of a typical behavior pattern that we have become so successful. In other words: it is our good old behavioral pattern. People around us also expect it from us.

Our nature tells us to be passive: we are suppressing our own disturbing behavior, but in order to reach the next level of performance, a change of attitude is often necessary. So, we should try to break through this passivity. The FeedForward method could help us to do so.

Paul

P.S.
I wish you a peaceful Queen’s Birthday (for the Dutchmen) and a nice holiday (if applicable). We will publish our next column immediately after the holidays, on Friday May 21st 2010.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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