Life Coach Trigena: Feed-FORWARD instead of Feed-BACK

Life Coach Trigena

(KUTV) Salt Lake City - Today on Fresh Living Life Coach Trigena sat down with the hosts with tips for giving constructive feedback.

Providing feedback is an essential skill for leaders, parents, team members, and athletes – basically anyone who communicates and works with others – essentially all of us! As employees we look to leaders to let us know how our performance lines up with expectations, as coaches we are ask to give feedback as we teach athletes their sport and as parents we need to be able to provide our kids – especially those teenagers – with feedback in a manner that promotes conversation and engaging dialogue. When feedback is given it is important to share what has been done well as well as what needs to change. The fundamental concern with feedback is it focuses on the past, on what has already occurred instead of the opportunities and possibilities that could positively impact the future. As such, the traditional way of giving feedback can be limited and static instead of expansive and dynamic.

Quality communication is the glue that holds organizations, families and teams together. The term “feed-forward” was coined in a discussion between Marshall Goldsmith – a leading authority in the coaching industry and author of What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There, Coaching for Leadership, Triggers and several other books and Jon Katzenbach, author of The Wisdom of Teams, Real Change Leaders and Peak Performance.

The feed-forward concept can dramatically improve the quality of communication by ensuring those who are on the receiving end are better positioned to be receptive to its content. The result is a focus on solving the issue going forward rather than dwelling on the mistakes of the past. Feed-forward does not imply superiority of judgment, it is focused on collaboration rather than being an expert and telling others what needs to be done.

How It Works

A helpful way to approach this concept is to ask yourself “how can I better support the individual with whom I have feedback?” Next, think of what you want that person to know, understand and/or consider based on your observation and/or interaction. This can be done in the following ways:

Ask them to share their experience and what they believe needs to be done going forward

Share what you think would enhance the situation next time – essentially ideas for changing, tweaking or adding to the situation

Ask for their opinion first and then share your thoughts

Ask them to consider what “advice” they would give someone else in the same situation/event

Ask the what they would change or do differently next time

Why It Works

The Future Can Be Changed – The Past Can’t – feed-forward helps us focus on what we want to achieve in the future. Athletes understand the concept – when we talk about hitting a golf ball, we talk in terms of how to get it on the green or with a mountain biker – we talk about how to ride the line or the rock garden. We don’t talk about what not to do, we focus on what to do for success.

Help Others Be Right, Not Wrong – feed-forward focuses on what needs to be done to be successful, not what someone didn’t do that was wrong. When talking to a team member about a meeting they facilitated that didn’t go well work to focus on what needs to occur next time for success versus what didn’t occur or didn’t work at the last meeting. It is a solution-based versus problem-based approach.

Feed-Forward Helps Keep The Brain In Reward Status – Feedback, especially when perceived as negative or offensive, can trigger the brain to respond in a way that promotes a threat, specifically as it relates to “fairness” and “status”. Status and fairness are important to the brain, when threatened the brain activates the amygdala – the fight or flight mechanism – causing the pre-frontal cortex to shut down which makes us “less smart” (for more information on this concept Feed-forward helps the brain stay in reward status which promotes clear thinking. When we are not threatened we can focus on listening to what is being said and start considering how we can use the information going forward rather than crafting a response to what is being said and shutting down.

Feed-Forward Is More Efficient – When traditional feedback is given there can be a tendency to debate the validity of the feedback, work to prove the feedback is wrong and/or become defensive. This can take up a lot of time and is often non productive. An excellent technique is to say, “Here are four ideas from my perspective, feel free to accept what makes sense and ignore what doesn’t make sense for you” or if the ideas presented need to be used due to rules, regulations, etc you might say “Here are four ideas from my perspective, let me know what you think and lets talk through anything that might not make sense.” With this approach almost no time gets wasted on judging the quality of the ideas or proving that the ideas are wrong. Most people will accept ideas they “buy” while rejecting ideas that feel “forced” upon them. Feed-forward opens up a dialogue for buy-in to occur.

The intent of the feed-forward concept is not to imply we should never give feedback. The intent is to show how feed-forward can often be preferable to traditional feedback. Aside from its effectiveness and efficiency, feed-forward can make life more enjoyable and support the engagement of others so conversations are more productive and others can really hear what we are trying to communicate.

Interested in learning more contact Trigena, 801.915.4046 or