Instead of Looking Back, Let’s Look Forward (6 Tips to Give Feed-Forward)

Instead of Looking Back, Let’s Look Forward (6 Tips to Give Feed-Forward)

Feedback is a part of every workplace and a common tool for individual improvement. Applying constructive methods to improve existing and develop new skills is crucial to any performing culture, or individual, seeking advantages. Yet through this tried, long standing interaction, we overlook how to enhance the ways we give feedback. The constant change among workplaces demands new, emerging, interpersonal strategies that challenge the status quo of feedback and how to develop the individual.

Enter Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame #1 Executive Coach in the world, and my mentor and good friend of 20+ years. His work continues to accomplish leadership and workplace development through the newest coaching concept of “feed-forward”. Feed-forward is a constructive communication style that delivers individual growth by focusing on what’s ahead and collaboratively preparing the individual for future success.

Feedback, which many falls back on, is rooted in the negative by looking back on mistakes and attempting to develop from there. If mishandled, this can lead to lower individual motivation to change and, in group settings like meetings, innovation and dialogue can be suppressed. Feed-forward changes the conversation by looking ahead. It positively influences the dialogue and encourages individuals to grow. Here are 5 actionable ways you can begin applying it:

1. Start with the Question
Arguably any leader’s greatest strength is in the questions they ask. Powerful inquiry opens the doorway for reflection, conversation and development to begin. As a leader, applying the feed-forward approach, each question must be constructed with a focus on the future, and it should include ideas related to what the individual can do and how they can develop. What can I do better next time? What is the best way to achieve this in the future?

2. Forward Influenced Conversation
As leaders, if we engage with others to think about the future and what can be done to prepare for it, then our conversation must also reflect this philosophy as well. Put simply, the dialogue between leaders and others should consistently integrate future thinking. Rather than stating “Here’s what you did…”, the message can be phrased as “Next time, you can…” A simple tweak in how the message is communicated can make all difference between dwelling in the past or looking towards the future.

3. Dialogue and Co-Create Rather than Sell and Tell
There’s a fundamental difference in dictating and dialoguing in an interaction, and the difference is easy to recognize. Feeling patronized is experienced when we are being talked at; the conversation is a one-way trip with little room for questions. Dialoguing differs by framing the conversation as a two-way conversation; the other side can participate, ask questions and speak. By creating equality in the conversation with equal airtime, feed-forward further encourages the spark for the individual to change. Using this approach may phrase questions as “Help me understand…” Or “Would you mind…”

4. Active Listening
How we organize our messages and communicate them is just as powerful as how we listen. At the core, feed-forward is about weaving the developing individual’s mind, thoughts, and focus on what they can do. As dialogue is formed, active listening is critical here (pun intended). It presents an opportunity for the individual coaching to confirm that they are engaged with the other side. If needed, it also works as a method to clarify and adjust the conversation; ensuring all parties are on the same page. Where hearing occurs when one regurgitates verbatim what was said, active listening plays back what was said through the individual’s authentic style. Phrases that support these situations can be “What I’m hearing you say is…”, “Thank you sharing that, my understanding is that…” or “Would you clarify…”

5. Use “And” Rather Than “But”
And… after actively listening and mirroring back your understanding be sure to use the words “and” rather than “but.” Saying the word, “but” negates your last statement. Imagine you were just told you are a great physician, BUT you need to think about the bigger picture. Change that to “You are a really great physician AND I invite you to think about the future of your work.” Sounds different, right? Now you can be both a great physician AND consider other ways of thinking.

6. Reflect on your Feed-Forward Skills
Providing actionable, productive feed-forward communication is a skill and just like throwing a baseball or playing an instrument, it needs practice to become natural. The same goes here for applying feed-forward into your life and daily interactions. After a session or session has concluded, take a few minutes to debrief and think over how well it worked. Perhaps it’s better to write your thoughts in a journal, record a video or connect with another coach.

Feed-forward asks us to breakaway from what we know and what we’ve experienced through feedback. Feedback can crush motivation and sour relationships by focusing on what people did wrong. By integrating these steps and frequently applying them, the channels of positivity and motivation to change openly. The goal of any coach should be to add value in every conversation and the feed-forward approach weaves this idea together.

Five Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Employees Perform at Their Best

Five Things You Can Do to Ensure Your Employees Perform at Their Best

At some point, it seems money will solve all our problems at once. Money buys wanted things, it helps to keep up with the Joneses, and it pays for the work we do. And, for reasons lost in history, too many employers remain stuck in time and motion mindsets when they organize work.

In one form or another, management and stakeholders assumed efficiency lay at the heart of all business performance. Analysts examined and revisited worker performance to find the most efficient method of completing a task. One early study of coal shoveling workers redesigned shovels to make their arduous work even more efficient.

The idea that employers should compensate employees for the speed and quality of their tasks still informs management approaches. Inc.com, for instance, puts compensation at the top of its list of nine ways to motivate employees saying, “Pay your people what they are worth.” Of course, you should pay people what they are worth – but that certainly doesn’t make them want to perform more and better for you.The research included in my new book, In Great Company offers a significant paradigm shift proving invaluable to profitable organizations.

5 things you can do

The idea of “happy” workers can present a linguistic problem because “happy” has its subjective perceptions. But it is clear employees suffer less stress, work more creatively, and contribute more when employers remove the barriers to their working with a focus on tasks in which they can lose themselves. Our research studied such “happy” workers and the context in which they performed trying to discern a prototype of “the most loved workplace.”

Jenny Darroch, Dean and Professor at The Peter F. Drucker Management School, summarized the link Drucker made between change and success. “Change leaders ask questions, listen, and observe, filter what is discovered through the lens of who the customer is and what the customer values, place bets, abandon the old, and serve as excellent executors of strategy”

Leaders start with deep and wide observation, immersing themselves in the flow of employee work and the personalities they bring to the task. Where consensus proves weak, they fix the work or the teams. Where questions are not asked, leaders ask the questions. And where organization individuals have not met customers, leaders initiate the relationships.

The change leaders running the best performing organizations have come to share the human value in emotional connectedness, the human sense of belonging linking family members, community efforts, faith groups, sports teams, and more.

They find success in adopting the behaviors listed here:

  1. Make collaboration a method and goal!

Systemic collaboration gets to the core of true functional collaboration, a part of the inner-workings of the organization and its decision-making processes. Employees work well in small teams where they can co-create results in sharing information and advice freely, where contributions are respected, and where their feedback is used. Encouraging and modeling collaboration creates and sustains social connections that prove emotionally satisfying to the employees.

  1.     Ensure a futures focus!

Change requires surrendering the past. All organizations tend to protect and continue the patterns they know best. They are not inclined to reinvent any wheels. But the continuity is an illusion. It only sustains a sameness which loses market demand in time. Future markets demand innovation and the passion to make it happen. And that requires workers moving forward in a unified way. To move an organization from the status quo, change must show the way, draw the map, and model the alignment.

  1.     Align the values!

As organizations move beyond values like efficiency, they aver their commitment to higher values like honesty, integrity, transparency, and customer satisfaction. The resonance with personal beliefs connects concerns and efforts. Of course, nothing happens until everyone embraces the values in common effort. Granular practices include doing what you say you are going to do or speaking truth instead of avoiding it. More conceptually challenging practices include living espoused values and ethics.

  1.     Use respect as currency!

Respect must be the organization’s language and currency. As respect becomes compensation, it values and connects persons and their capabilities. It becomes a social currency with reciprocal values in exchange. From “Well done!” to trophies and plaques to newsletter headlines, and so on. The respect is a constant, a fiber and glue holding the organization together and perhaps leaning forward. It informs practice, plans, and performance.

  1.     Deliver killer achievements!

Achievements feel hollow unless both the individual and organization get something out of them. Killer achievement delivers a combination of financial and emotional benefits amplifying the effect for everyone. Employees love a workplace that empowers people to focus on the customers and critical goals while eliminating extraneous minutia. In this case, emotional connectedness is markedly deepened when people have objectives that are simply stated and when the system removes competing interests blocking the path to success. Critical to this dimension are identifying and measuring the elements most important to the organization and allowing easy options for executive coaching, leadership and organization development.

The profit in performance

A workplace established on emotional-connectedness makes sense and dollars. Consider the likes of Zoom Video, In-n-Out Burgers, LinkedIn, Trader Joe’s, Southwest Airlines, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Wegman’s Food Markets, and more listed by Glassdoor’s 2019 Best Places to Work.

Chief among the habits of their employees is their constant willingness to brag about their workplace, affirm what it means to them, praise their co-workers, and recommend working there.

Louis Carter, MA is author of over 10 books on best practices in leadership and management including Change Champion's Field Guide, Best Practices in Talent Management, and In Great Company. He is one of the top advisors to C-level executives – helping them and their organizations achieve measurable results. Carter is the recipient of ELearning! Magazine's Trailblazer Award, HR Tech Conference's Top Products Award, and Leadership Excellence Magazine's Best in Leadership Development for his work as Chairman and CEO of Best Practice Institute. He received his MA in Social/Organizational Psychology from Columbia University

Websites: https://www.louiscarter.com  http://www.bestpracticeinstitute.org

Works Cited

Carter, L. (2019). In Great Company. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Darroch, J. (2017, June 2). How to Manage through Change, the Drucker Way: Where are the Change Leaders? Retrieved Feb. 20, 2019, from HuffPost: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-manage-through-change-the-drucker-way-where_us_5930f752e4b0649fff2117cb

Economy, P. (2016, March 16). 9 Super Effective Ways to Motivate Your Team. Retrieved Feb. 22, 2019, from Inc.com: https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/9-super-effective-ways-to-motivate-your-team.html

Why Are You Still Here? 5 Ways to Keep ‘Em Coming Back Every Day

Why Are You Still Here? 5 Ways to Keep ‘Em Coming Back Every Day

Turnover is a real issue, even in the most employee-friendly company. Things happen and situations arise that drive the cycle of departure, but as the boss, you can take steps right now to ensure the employees you value remain as members of your team. Keeping employee motivation high may seem impossible, especially when everything in the company does not go as planned. However, the most trying times in your business may create extraordinary opportunities to reflect on organizational behavior and give your corporate culture a boost.

  1. Exercise an Open-Door Policy

One of the easiest ways you as a manager can get your employees to want to stay is by making yourself and your counsel available. In good times and bad, some people may require more reassurance or guidance than others. Some may feel uneasy about their performance and desire feedback to improve it. Showing your workforce that you want to help gives them the chance to engage with you and get the coaching they need to perform at their best.

However, you need to strike a balance so problematic people do not take up all your time. Establish office hours and allow people to sign up for 15-minute time slots. If a matter demands more time, extend it as needed. Creating boundaries with the process makes it run more smoothly.

  1. Take Action When Issues Arise

Allowing complaints against an employee to stand without recourse sends the wrong message to the rest of your workforce. Taking action to stop the spread of poor attitudes and behavior demonstrates that you know what is happening in the business and that you are willing to make difficult decisions to rectify any issues. If you ignore rumors and negativity too long, it can take root and affect employee morale.

  1. Stay Away From Micromanaging

Your workers should lift each other and stay on task without you involving yourself in every aspect of the job. Empowering people drives employee motivation. It fosters an environment of autonomy and allows people to feel less fettered when performing everyday duties. It also helps promote a creative environment and may push employees to go above and beyond the norm.

  1. Recognize and Reward the Good

When something goes wrong, it is easy to dwell on the negative, especially when it comes to a careless mistake. However, if your corporate culture practices employee-shaming, you will not spur employee motivation. On the other hand, if you flip the policy and spend more time praising the excellent work done, employees should take notice.

Rewards and recognition do not always have to be financial, although money definitely motivates. Set up a monthly luncheon and choose a top worker each week to attend. Send a company-wide email that turns the attention to the good things people do. Pointing out the hardworking members of your workforce encourages others to push themselves. Reward shows employees you recognize the good, so when something negative requires your attention, it will not seem that is all you focus on.

  1. Take Team-Building Out of the Office

Hanging around the office day in and day out can become a drag. Get with your management team and put together fun out-of-office days to mix in some excitement. You do not need to make it elaborate; take smaller groups to the movies or maybe do a ropes course or outdoor activity. Even a simple barbeque in the park is a great way to lift the spirits of all.

Employee motivation is essential in retaining people in a competitive market. If your workforce gets the impression you don't care about them, it can send some of your best people packing. Taking a few simple steps to show workers their worth to the bottom line can keep them clocking in day after day.

Terminating an  Employee 101:  How to Know When it’s Time to Let Go

Terminating an Employee 101: How to Know When it’s Time to Let Go

Severing an employee isn’t easy, but it can be necessary. If you have any workers who are toxic to the company, it’s time to let them go. Ideally, employees and employers come to an agreement about employee severance. Then, each party goes its separate ways. This is ideal but not always the usual. When employee motivation is down, you need to look at the employees responsible. For unsure employers, this is when you know it’s time to let an employee go and when to do it.

Misconduct and Unethical Conduct

Misconduct is serious. If an employee shows any sexist, racist or problematic behavior, let him or her go. Do not allow threats or other misconduct to go undisciplined. Unethical conduct can include the following:

  • Theft
  • Slander
  • Fraud
  • Dishonesty

Your company’s reputation hinges on your employees. Don’t let one employee ruin your reputation.

Absences and Poor Performance

Employee motivation goes down if they notice some co-workers aren’t working as hard. Poor performance and chronic absences are a reason for termination. If productivity slips, it may be time for a talk. If the behavior does not change, then it may be time for termination.

Drama and Complaints

Office drama happens. You can’t always avoid it. Some people, unfortunately, like to cause drama. If someone is stirring the pot, gossiping and always the center of drama, it’s a problem. This creates a negative corporate culture.

Complaints also matter. If your employee has customers, vendors and coworkers filing complaints, it’s time to look closely at that person.

Lack of Growth

The office is a place for personal and professional development. If your employee is not willing to improve or to train, then he or she may drag the company down. Employee motivation needs to be high. If your employee makes mistakes and doesn’t seek to fix them, he or she is not useful.

Poor Time Management

Now and then tardiness happens. Good organizational behavior is important. This is especially true when it comes to time management. Say you have an employee with a case of chronic lateness who misses deadlines. Seek to work with him at first. Let the employee know that he isn’t meeting your standards. If the employee continues to struggle, then your company might not be the right fit.

Terminating an Employee

If you determine it’s time to let an employee go, when you do it is important. How quickly do you want the employee out of the office? You also want to consider your worker’s feelings. You should never fire someone callously. Make sure that you take the time to be considerate. This also includes terminating at the right time.

In the past, employers would fire on Fridays. This is a bad idea. The weekend gives the employee time to stew on the firing. He or she can’t jump straight into a job search but has to wait all weekend. Most employers agree that it is better to fire in the middle of the week. You don’t want to fire on a Monday. This leads to feelings of time wasted. Make sure to terminate early in the day.

Remember that a crying or upset co-worker can drop employee motivation. Give the terminated employee a quiet or private space if he or she is upset. Treat him or her in a dignified way. You should always have respect, no matter the conditions of the termination.

When it comes to firing an employee, always consider the matter carefully. Some decisions aren’t as clear as others. Take into account the advantages and disadvantages of keeping an employee. Someone who does more harm than good has to be let go. Nevertheless, remember even in cases of termination to treat all employees with respect.

3 Ways To Get What You Want

3 Ways To Get What You Want

No matter how much you’ve accomplished, there’s always the possibility of increasing your productivity and effectiveness so that you can achieve more of your professional goals. Follow these tips to reach higher still.

1. Set the Right Goals

The first step to achieving goals is to set the right ones. Many leadership and organization psychology experts use the acronym SMART — specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — to help you hone in on the types of goals that will set you up for success. Besides creating a sense of urgency, a SMART goal is clearly defined. “I’ll go to the gym for an hour before work every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” yields better results than a vague, “I’ll get in shape.”

In addition to setting SMART goals, it’s also important to focus on what you can control and not on the outcome, which is out of your control. According to Think Like a Warrior, by sports psychology expert Darin Donnelly, you’ll get the best results, and be happier, if you focus only on your effort and your attitude. Otherwise, if you focus on results and outcomes, you risk getting discouraged and giving up when something doesn’t go your way.

2. Change Your Habits

Most people know that our habits are what help or hurt us the most when it comes to goal achievement. You may be surprised to learn that one of the most effective ways to change a habit is to change your environment, according to Psychology Today.

Often people fall into negative habits due to surrounding stimuli, such as eating ice cream after dinner because you see the ice cream bowls in the cabinet while doing the dishes. In this example, you could benefit by moving the bowls so you don’t encounter them as often and can avoid the negative habit entirely. Likewise in a professional setting, correcting a negative habit could be as simple as turning your desk or working on a different team.

3. Leave Your Comfort Zone

True leaders are willing to make themselves uncomfortable at times for the sake of achieving their goals, according to Kathy Caprino, a career coach and leadership expert who contributes to Forbes. It takes courage, and a willingness to leave your comfort zone and speak up and propose changes to a system that isn’t working. When you point out flaws in the system, you’re bound to encounter naysayers who want to stay in their own comfort zones. However, when you consider what it takes to make a significant positive impact on your organization, it often requires taking a calculated risk.

Facebook
Facebook
YOUTUBE
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
Louis Carter Logo black and white

Just enter your email address an then keep an eye on your inbox.

Thank you! You will receive an email shortly.

employer-badge

Team and Company Alignment Are Critical Components ofLarge-Scale Change

94% of employees that love their workspace and are aligned with its values are 2-4 times more likely to perform more and recommend their company

Subscribe to my newsletter to learn how to gain value alignment, connect your employees emotionally to your business, and get better outcomes.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Louis Carter Logo black and white

CEO & Founder of Best Practice Institute

Retain your best employees, increase productivity, and create a community that fosters peak performance.

Thank you! You will receive an email shortly.