Coaching and Mentoring
Using “Feed-forward” Coaching for Future Development
Although there are a number of ways in which a manager can coach another person, one useful technique is to focus on the positives and the future and use what is called the “feed-forward” technique (rather than the feedback technique which tends to look to what has gone wrong in the past and try to fix it).
Feed-forward coaching involves a leader or manager giving an individual suggestions for the future – that is, suggestions aimed at helping them change (that are future focused).
Although it may take a little practice to get the approach right (and to make critical remarks about what may not have been done well in the past) the feed-forward process works as follows:
- The person being coached picks one behavior that they would like to change (which will hopefully make a positive and worthwhile difference in their work or life).
- The person being coached describes this behavior randomly to a few selected colleagues (e.g. “I want to be a better negotiator/ listener” etc).
- The person being coached asks for feed-forward suggestions (these are one or two suggestions for the future that might help them achieve a positive change in their selected behavior.)
- The person being coached ideally listens attentively to the suggestions and takes notes if necessary (without commenting in any way (positively or negatively on the suggestions).
The feed-forward technique:
- helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past.
- Gives people ideas on how they can be even more successful, we can increase their chances of achieving this success in the future.
- does not imply superiority of judgment. It is more focused on being a helpful “fellow traveler” than an “expert.”
The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Coaching Skills: An RSB eLearning Course.