Know someone who just doesn’t get it?

We can all be a little thick in the head or slow to catch on sometimes.  But do you have a co-worker or a manager who is constantly clueless. They think that they are doing a great, bang-up job when they really aren’t? Someone who just doesn’t get it?   You know the ones:  “The light’s on but nobodys home.” Or “He’s not the brightest crayon in the box.”

What do you do?

As a leader in an organization part of your job is to help people develop some self awareness of what’s working and what’s not working. Then assist them in changing behaviors that are not working for them while reinforcing the ones that are.

One technique that I like to use in my Executive Coaching practice is called Feedforward.  It was developed by Marshall Goldsmith, a fellow leadership consultant. This technique is more positive than traditional feedback.  Feedback focuses on what has happened in the past, while Feedforward focuses on the future and is more relevant and dynamic.

The technique is pretty simple.  It takes two people.  The first person gives the second person suggestions and help for their future actions. The second person is asked to accept feedforward—that is, to listen to the suggestions for the future and learn as much as they can.   With the goal of becoming the best that they can be.

It looks like this:

Person #1 picks one behavior that they would like to change. The change in this behavior should make a significant, positive difference in their lives.  Describe the behavior to person #2.  “I want to talk less and listen more.”

  • Person #1 asks for feedforward—for two suggestions for the future that might help them achieve a positive change in their selected behavior.
  • Person #2 shares the two suggestions for the future aimed at helping the other person change.
  • Person #1 Listens attentively to the suggestions but does not comment on the suggestions.   Person #1 thanks person #2  for their input.

The beauty of this process is:
It is positive and aimed at future success.
It is non-threatening.
It is efficient.  The entire process of both giving and receiving feedforward usually takes about two minutes.

The next time you want to help someone change their behavior, suggest a Feedforward meeting!  Amazing changes will begin to occur!

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