Correction: Feedback vs feedforward
In that relationship, do you wait 12–24 months to address something concerning the relationship?
In no relationship, no healthy relationship, do you wait for 12–24 months to address something that you understand could affect the growth and longevity of the relationship. And yet, this is repeatedly done by many leaders. Instead of providing correction and insight when things occur, we allow time to pass while unhealthy habits are formed. Not only are those unhealthy habits growing, but by waiting, we also give space for them to spread.
This is the problem with giving feedback. Too often, feedback is given after the unhealthy habit has been formed spread. This is an issue that falls at the doorstep of leadership. Again I ask, in what other relationship would we allow things to build before addressing it? In no other relationships, because we understand it is not a healthy practice.
So what is the alternative to giving feedback? The option is to feedforward. Instead of waiting for the unhealthy habit or attitude to grow, address it at first sight.
The idea behind constructive criticism is to highlight what was done correctly while addressing the weaknesses to help develop a more decisive leader. Likewise, with constructive correction, we do not ignore the positive contributions. Instead, we handle the things that aren’t working so that the individual can keep producing excellence.
Feedforward addresses the possible mindsets or behaviors that can build into something that does not align with the vision or core beliefs. This can be done weekly or even biweekly, but we allow months to pass by; only minor details will be fresh in your mind. The fact is that many of us cannot remember what we had for lunch yesterday, so how can we think we will not forget everything (good and bad) that someone may have done?
As the year comes to an end, many organizations will begin to do year-end reviews. While it is good to do a year-end review, creating a space of constant communication is essential for growth. Continuous communication cannot be just a casual “hello” in the hallway; it must be more. It must be a conversation that is vision-focused, mission-driven, and growth is the objective.
When we wait for the end of the year or an unwanted event to address an unhealthy habit, we slowly chip away at the organization’s core values. Suppose there’s anything we learned through the lockdowns during the pandemic. In that case, it’s that communication doesn’t have to be in-person to be effective. Effective communication requires intention and being present instead of thinking of what’s for lunch while addressing a matter. Being present is blocking out that space where nothing else matters except for what’s taking place at that moment. Because frankly, if we want to have a healthy relationship, we have to be present.
In that relationship, do you wait 12–24 months to address something concerning the relationship? Sadly in leadership.