Berger Leadership Blog

Categories: Leadership

A new approach to feedback: 'Feedforward'

Dan BergerI write often about how important feedback is for leaders. Whether it's to help you identify your blind spots, strengthen your team or culture, seeking advice and comments from others is an important component of improving performance and growing.

So when I came across this piece from relationship expert Paul Cowan in RealLeaders challenging the notion of feedback, I was intrigued. Now, Cowan isn't advocating against asking people for their thoughts and how you can improve. Rather, it's all about changing your mindset to be forward looking.

Here's how he recommends you implement "feedforward" at your organization:

  • Get your eyes out of the rear-view mirror: Feedback is often given after the fact. You ask your members or clients to rate your team's performance, what was the content at the event like, or what issues they had with the process. Think about reviews online: Most people leave comments when they've had a bad experience. Sure, it can help you identify big misses to try to prevent going forward, but it can also leave you hung up on something that's already done. That's mentally fatiguing.
  • Focus on what's in front of you: We can't change the past, but we can alter our future trajectory. When embarking on a new endeavor, ask your members/customers for their thoughts. My organization uses member-comprised committees to get direct feedback. We go to them when we're thinking about launching a new event, online resource, or advocating on a new issue. That brings them into the process and makes it more of a collaboration. It also helps generate ideas – potentially ones we hadn't thought of – and can be a gut check to make sure you're headed in the right direction.
  • Ask four essential questions: To ensure "feedforward" is getting you the insights you need, Cowan offers these questions:
    • What inspires, excites, or moves you? This helps build buy-in and passion for your efforts.
    • What works? Or what's just OK? This helps you identify areas of current operations that could be improved, and if any practices should be emulated in another area.
    • What's missing? This is essentially the point that feedback tries to pin down. Using this question in your "feedforward" efforts can help make it much more constructive and beneficial since you can put it into action beforehand.
    • What would make the idea bigger and better? Similar to the point above, this gives you the chance to address people's wants and desires ahead of time, rather than hearing about what they would've wanted after the fact.

This shift in MO is transformative. As our organizations look to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and build a brighter future, being guided by "what could be" instead of "what was" is a strong approach to accomplish that.

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P.S. For credit union leaders preparing for the future, our complimentary virtual State of the Industry is coming up next month. Here, you'll get insights into trends, strategies, and best practices to position your institution for growth. Register now.

About the Author

B. Dan Berger, President and CEO, NAFCU

Dan BergerB. Dan Berger first joined NAFCU in 2006 and helped turn the association into the premiere advocate for the credit union industry.

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