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Feedback vs Feedforward: Which Method Is Better For Organization?

8 min read   |  
Last Updated on
feedback-vs-feedforward

The ability to utilize the transformative potential of feedback and feedforward is indispensable.

Feedback offers invaluable insights into past performance. At the same time, feedforward provides proactive guidance for the future. However, understanding the distinction between the two concepts beyond the basics is essential.

In this blog, we’ll explore feedback vs feedforward. We’ll also learn how to leverage their distinct attributes to maximize organizational potential.

So, let’s begin!

Key Takeaways

  1. Meaning of feedback and feedforward
  2. Notable differences between feedback and feedforward
  3. The fundamental problem with feedback
  4. Reason behind switching from feedback to feedforward
  5. Best practices to implement feedforward in your organization
  6. Chances of feedforward to sustain over feedback

What is Feedback and Feedforward?

Feedback

Feedback refers to the process in which information is given to an entity regarding some aspect of their behavior or performance.

Simply put, feedback is a mechanism for providing valuable evaluation or insight based on past performance.

Feedforward

Feedforward is a method of giving advice and support that strongly emphasizes future-oriented development.

It’s a dynamic approach to constructive suggestions and forward-thinking recommendations.

In summary, feedback helps individuals learn and improve from past experiences. Feedforward assists in optimizing future performances by providing guidance and suggestions before actions occur.

Notable Differences between Feedback and Feedforward

Feedback and feedforward are two potent tools for honing skills and achieving goals. As such, it is imperative to grasp the nuances between the two. Outlining and understanding the key differences can help us better understand both concepts.

Here are the notable differences between feedback and feedforward.

Feedback Feedforward
Focuses on past performance or behavior. Focuses on future performance or behavior.
Evaluates performance or tasks already done. Provides guidance for future performance or tasks.
It takes place after the action is performed. It occurs before the action is performed.
It is offered in the form of results, data or observations. It is offered through predictions, advice or suggestions.
Provides several pieces of information without always being specific. Underscores the area or areas that need immediate focus.
It promotes evaluation and learning from experience. It drives preparation and confidence for the future.

The Fundamental Problems with Feedback

Feedback is widely accepted and is very popular. It certainly has its advantages, too. However, it is not free from drawbacks.

Understanding the challenges associated with feedback is crucial for improving its effectiveness.

So, here are some fundamental problems commonly encountered in feedback systems.

1. One-way Communication

Feedback is often criticized due to its one-way communication process. Through feedback, information is shared without allowing for the reciprocal exchange of ideas. It gives little to no room for discussion or clarification. Such lack of dialogue may lead to misinterpretations of the feedback’s intent.

2. Lack of Specificity

Specificity is critical for feedback to be impactful. When feedback lacks specificity, recipients may struggle to understand which behavior or action is being addressed. They’ll also struggle to implement the feedback effectively.

Certain feedback like “you need to improve” or “you could’ve done it better” may not be effective since it lacks clarity. And, most importantly, specificity.

3. Feedback Delays

Delays in providing feedback can reduce its effectiveness. If feedback isn’t given soon after something happens, employees might forget what happened or how it happened.

Consequently, it becomes harder for them to learn from their experience. And fix the problem quickly.

4. Status Quo Bias

Many times, feedback is hindered by status quo bias. Some employees may resist change and prefer to maintain existing habits or practices. Such bias may stem from a fear of failure. It may also be a reluctance to challenge one’s belief.

5. No/ Lack of Follow Up

Feedback often falls flat due to no/lack of follow-up. It simply means no ongoing support or guidance after feedback is given. No meaningful improvement can be achieved without proper follow-up.

6. Emotional or Psychological Impact

Poorly delivered feedback can have a negative emotional toll on employees. Sometimes, harsh criticism or insensitive comments can have damaging effects on relationships. It may further create an environment of hostility for the employees.

Why Switch from Feedback to Feedforward?

1. Future-focused Improvement

Future Focused Improvement.png

Feedforward emphasizes future-oriented development. It provides guidance and suggestions for improvement before action takes place.

Unlike feedback, which focuses on past performance, feedforward helps employees and teams anticipate challenges. It set goals and makes proactive adjustments to achieve better outcomes in the future.

By encouraging a forward-thinking mindset, feedforward can promote continuous learning and development.

2. Growth Mindset Cultivation

Growth Mindset Cultivation.png

Feedforward promotes the cultivation of a growth mindset. Growth mindset is basically a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through efforts. Such a mindset can help your employees reach their maximum potential.

Feedback is sometimes perceived as judgmental or evaluative. Feedforward, on the other hand, identifies opportunities for improvement.

3. Stronger Coaching Culture

Stronger Coaching Culture.png

It’s great to have a workplace where everyone is like a teammate. Feedforward has the potential to foster such a culture.

Traditional feedback usually has a hierarchical or top-down approach. However, feedforward encourages peer-to-peer coaching and collaboration.

It will give your employees the opportunity for mutual-learning and skill-sharing. As a result, leading to stronger interpersonal relationships and organizational cohesion.

4. Sustainable Change

Feedback may at times lead to defensiveness, or resistance to change. Feedforward has the capacity to promote openness to new ideas or experiments.

Through feedforward, you can gently guide your employees towards new possibilities. You can empower them to embrace change.

5. Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication.png

Feedback is often criticized for being one-sided or hierarchical. But feedforward is not rigid. It encourages open dialogue, and active listening.

When your employees feel confident to share their thoughts and ideas, it fosters a culture of collaboration and communication.

6. Adaptation to Modern Work Dynamics

Adaptation to Modern work Dynamics.png

Modern workplaces are characterized by rapid change and uncertainty. Feedforward is well-suited to the demands of modern work dynamics. Since it emphasizes agility and flexibility.

Such an approach will allow your employees to adapt quickly to evolving challenges and seize opportunities.

7. Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement.png

Feedback often highlights areas of concern or weakness. But feedforward focuses on possibilities for growth.

By taking a positive and optimistic approach, feedforward can inspire employees to reach new heights. At the same time, they exceed their own expectations. This focus on positivity and potential can give a good boost to employee morale and overall job satisfaction.

The switch from feedback to feedforward isn’t just about changing the way we offer input. It’s more about creating a culture of continuous improvement. It’s about fostering an environment where your employees feel empowered to proactively seek opportunities for growth.

Best Practices to Implement Feedforward in Your Organization

1. Educate Employees on the significance of Feedforward

You’ve to educate your employees about the meaning and significance of feedforward. Explain to them how feedforward differs from traditional feedback. You’ve got to emphasize its future-focused approach and how it can help them better their performance.

2. Motivate Employees to Offer and Accept Feedforward

Encourage a culture where your employees feel comfortable both giving and receiving feedforward. For this, you must underscore the value of constructive feedback. Encouraging them to have open dialogue is crucial here.

In fact, you can lead by example by actively seeking and responding to feedforward yourself.

3. Initiate Discussions Centered Around Feedforward

Creating opportunities for open discussions within teams is a wonderful way to initiate conversation around feedforward. You can also facilitate brainstorming sessions where your employees can share their experiences.

Moreover, you must encourage your team members to share their experiences, challenges and success by incorporating feedforward into their daily interactions.

4. Commence with a Trial Program

You can run a trial program. It’s a strategic way to introduce feedforward within your organization. Initially, you can test different feedforward approaches by selecting a specific team or project.

You’ll be able to gather valuable feedback and identify what works well.

You must encourage your employees to share their experiences and insights without any bias. It will allow the trail program to be more effective.

5. Incorporate Regular Checkpoint Meetings

You can conduct regular checkpoint meetings to discuss progress. These meetings can serve as dedicated time for employees to reflect on their performance.

Moreover, incorporating feedforward into regular communication channels will reinforce its significance. It will become a consistent part of your organizational culture.

6. Leverage the Use of Employee Pulse Survey Tools

It’s good practice to conduct frequent employee pulse surveys. With the help of employee surveys, you can establish a systematic method of tracking progress.

Employee pulse surveys allow you to,

  • Track progress over time

  • Provide insights into the effectiveness of feedforward

  • Identify trends or pattern that may emerge

A continuous feedback loop will empower you to make timely adjustments. It will also ensure that your feedforward practices remain relevant and impactful. establish a systematic method for tracking progress over time.

7. Focus on Continuous Improvements

Feedforward is an ongoing and dynamic process. You’ve to promote a mindset of continuous improvement when implementing feedforward. Empower your employees to experiment with new ideas. It will inspire them to optimize their feedforward practices.

8. Celebrate Progress

It’s important to recognize the efforts of your employees who’ve truly embraced feedforward. You’ll be able to reinforce the value of feedforward by celebrating milestones with your employees.

It will also inspire your employees to keep pushing forward and continue learning.

These were some of the best practices to implement feedforward in your organization.

Will Feedforward Sustain Over Feedback?

The debate between feedback vs feedforward has gained significant attention. Both approaches have different goals. But the question arises: Will feedforward sustain over feedback in fostering a better work culture?

Feedback continues to have its place in providing insights. But feedforward also offers a promising alternative. It provides guidance and suggestions before actions occur.

As a result, it encourages a culture of proactive problem solving and continuous learning. Such an approach aligns closely with the demands of modern workplaces. Since the modern workplace appreciates agility and adaptability.

However, it’s important to note that replacing feedback entirely may not be possible. Feedback offers valuable insights into past performance. It allows employees to understand their strengths and areas for improvement.

But combining feedback and feedforward can be impactful. Employees can gain a well-rounded viewpoint that considers both past experiences and future growth. A balanced approach that integrates both will offer the most effective path forward.

Conclusion

Ultimately, the decision between feedback vs feedforward depends on the objectives of the feedback exchange. And the preferences of the employees involved. Adopting an approach that has the elements of both is the way forward.

This article is written by Sanjeevani Saikia who is a part of the marketing team at Vantage Circle. Sanjeevani loves to split her leisure time between reading and watching TedX. Her curiosity is easily piqued by the most recent developments in Human Resource Management and Organizational Psychology. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com.

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