The 4 Rules for Feedback That Work

When was the last time you had some feedback that actually worked? By work, I mean it actually made a difference and you were able to do something differently afterwards? And, if it did work, what was the emotional/energetic cost to you? For a whole host of reasons – feedback often doesn’t work because it:

  1. focuses on the past – which you can’t change
  2. focuses on what goes wrong – rather than what goes right
  3. adopts a ‘deficit’ approach rather than an ‘abundance’ mentality
  4. doesn’t help people discover and grow their strengths

Try Feed-forward Instead

Modern research is now saying that what works a lot better is feedforward. Feedforward is based on the premise that feedback doesn’t really help – the past is already gone and there is not a lot we can do about it. The future on the other hand – that’s where hope, change, learning, and development lie. Feedforward means looking ahead to how you would do things differently next time – as opposed to what you did “wrong” last time.

Give it a try, next time you sit down with a staff member.  Here are some rules to get you started.

  1. No feedback about the past
  2. Treat each idea as a gift – say thank you (you don’t have to use the gift, but be grateful for being given it)
  3. Keep it brief and simple
  4. Focus on what you can change not what you can’t
  5. Talk about how to do things differently / better next time

Give it a try – and let me know how you go. 

Cris believes that Monday morning should be something you look forward to. He helps individuals and organisations to unleash the Power of Positive Performance (PoPP), and create thriving, resilient, innovative and above all – productive workplaces. Give him a call on +61 438 545 607 or email him at