Everyone needs to learn, but no one wants to be told they are wrong.

The JOHARI window demonstrates that it is only by hearing the perspective of others that we are able to reduce our blind spots and become truly aware of how we are seen by others.

“Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed the Johari Window in 1955. The tool is a useful visual representation of a person's character, and is represented with a four-quadrant grid. The goal of the Johari Window is to demonstrate the importance of open communication, and to explain its effect on group trust. “Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham developed the Johari Window in 1955. The tool is a useful visual representation of a person's character, and is represented with a four-quadrant grid.

The goal of the Johari Window is to demonstrate the importance of open communication, and to explain its effect on group trust. The model also teaches you the importance of self-disclosure, and shows how group feedback can help you grow, both personally and professionally. Your Open Area is expanded vertically with self-disclosure, and horizontally with feedback from others on your team. By encouraging healthy self-disclosure and sensitive feedback, you can build a stronger and more effective team”

Reference www.mindtools.com

What is your organisation's policy on feedback?

Does it happen once a year, once an hour, or every time you make a mistake? Maybe it doesn't happen at all.

The policies surrounding feedback in businesses vary widely. The best leaders know that a culture encouraging the giving and receiving of feedback leads to higher performance, and avoiding difficult conversations or toxic communication habits lead to staff turnover and failure.

But what is feedback, and how could it be better delivered and received?

In their book "Thanks for the Feedback" Stone and Heen note that feedback can mean many different things, from a pat on the back to a dressing down. They argue that feedback comes in three forms and problems arise when the receiver wants or hears one kind when the giver means another.

- Appreciation (thanks)

- Coaching (can you think of ….. or ……here is a better way to do it)

- Evaluation (here's where you stand)

George Kohlrieser (Organisational and Clinical psychologist, Leadership Professor at IMD) always taught me that feedback should be seen and experienced as a gift. Before you close your mind to anyone's opinion your first words should be “thank you” because they have taken the time to help you learn.

In an ideal world we would receive feedback constantly, isolate what is useful, and respectfully ignore the rest whilst retaining and strengthening our relationship with the giver.

Unfortunately there are a variety of challenges impeding successful feedback:

A lack of support from the organisation.

The discouragement of positive and negative feedback, or a negative belief that offering feedback will be detrimental to the giver or receiver. The absence of suitable training in this area leads a lack of skills and fear of failure stopping feedback before it starts.

Time Management.

It is very easy to become busy with other tasks or to put off engaging in difficult conversations.

Triggered reactions of the receiver to deflect negative feedback.

Truth triggers (That's wrong or not helpful), Relationship triggers (Who are you to say that? After all I've done for you?), and Identity triggers (You are attacking who I think I am)

Receiving too much feedback

Not all feedback is correct or given in an appropriate way and can be damaging to confidence and future performance. It is difficult to know which information to follow, and how to remain grateful as you decline acting on advice.

I had the opportunity to be an observer during a sales call between a representative and the sales manager. During the debrief at the end of the call the manager commenced her "feedback" session with the unsuspecting representative.

Manager: Well you did this wrong, followed by that, and that and that...

With each additional mistake the crest fallen representative's head dropped lower and lower. She had stopped listening around the third remark and her confidence and state were completely shattered as the list went on to number over ten issues without any positivity.

The lesson I took from this is to consider the impact feedback can have. If you are truly seeking a better outcome or performance, then prioritising your observations and framing them to a point in time in the future will better deliver value to and raise the confidence of the recipient. They are more likely to then address your observation and seek to improve their future performance.

Marshall Goldsmith of the Leader to Leader Institute points out that traditionally all communication on whether performance has met expectations has been downward feedback from leaders to their employees. Despite efforts to incorporate upward feedback or 360 degree assessments, the fundamental problem with all feedback is that it focuses on the past.

Has your organisation tried Feedforward?

Instead of arguing over the past it could be more productive to imagine a future of higher performance. Constructive feedback can still be seen as negative as it contains a list of shortcomings and mistakes.

Feedforward focuses on future solutions, positive outcomes, and cultivating a growth mentality.

Feedforward is not a tool to escape responsibility for past mistakes, but it is a way to correct them in the future by "proposing practical behaviours, actions or words rather than general ideas, principles or concepts." (Etasysteme Coaching)

By discussing future possibilities you can empower people as they haven't done anything wrong yet, and by avoiding judgemental statements you can form positive partnerships.

I have had the pleasure of introducing Feedforward coaching initiatives in two separate global organisations across many different business functions. The rave reviews from the managers implementing the programs, and from their employees or peers benefitting from the "gift" of Feedforward have reinforced my belief in the concept.

Creating the right environment to exchange ideas has made the difference between inconsistent feedback sessions and instead having a positive impact on another individual mature enough to recognise their own areas of possible growth. If the manager and team members can visualise better outcomes in the future, they can agree on strategies and tactics that can be put in place to achieve that outcome.

Is there someone in your team/organisation that would like to hear more about how the Feedforward coaching model may provide benefit and put you on a course to becoming a higher performing team?

Written by Glen Pearce & Rory Evers

From Feedback to Feedforward