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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:

  1. 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).
  2. The person being coached describes this behavior randomly to a few selected colleagues (e.g. “I want to be a better negotiator/ listener” etc).
  3. 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.)
  4. 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:

  1. helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past.
  2. Gives people ideas on how they can be even more successful, we can increase their chances of achieving this success in the future.
  3. 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.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at OptimalJon@gmail.com

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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