Join Lisa Gates for an in-depth discussion in this video Giving future-focused feedback, part of Coaching and Developing Employees (2013).
In coaching for employee development, you want to give future-focused feedback. Typical performance measurements usually focus on what happened and provide constructive criticism about how things should have been done. In other words, it's focused on the past. You know yourself. If you tend to default to constructive criticism, learning to focus on the future may take a little practice. So, we're going to jump into two short conversations with Eric and Michelle. To demonstrate the impact of both kinds of conversations. Let's say Eric missed his promised deadline of getting a new proposal on the table.
First the constructive criticism approach. Michelle: So what's the struggle with the proposal, you've missed two deadlines. Eric: Yes, I'm sorry about that. It's just taking more time to collaborate on the collaboration than I originally thought. Michelle: Well, you're, you should have given me a heads up. Eric: Mm. Michelle: Remember how we always talked about closing the loop? Eric: yes. And again, I apologize. it's been very difficult trying to get everyone's schedules together so we can meet. And then, when we do meet, I've got Ann, I've got Dave and they're just super critical on everything and it just really slows down on the process.
Michelle: Yes, but you should have told me. And, and here's the thing. I think you need to rise above personality and just show a little more muscle in your leadership. Eric: I can agree with that but it goes counter to collaboration. And I don't want to make the same mistake before where I just pushed everything ahead before everyone was heard. Michelle: But, (SOUND) why didn't you call these people out when they were being uncooperative? Eric: You're right, I should have. But things are just tense enough already.
Michelle: Hm. And so it goes. Constructive criticism is effective in some contexts, but to Eric, Michelle's feedback felt like judgement and criticism and stopped the forward momentum. So now, let's take a look at feedback that focuses on future solutions. Michelle: So Eric, I just found out that you missed two deadlines. Let's see if we can't clean up our agreement around accountability.
Eric: Yes, and again I'm sorry that I didn't keep you in the loop. I just didn't know how you would react, when you found out I missed my deadline. Michelle: Oh I understand. I'm not going to wave my finger at you. We've all missed deadlines. I'm more interested in what we need to add to our accountability agreements. Eric: Well, we could add a check-in before the final deadline. Michelle: Sounds good, yeah. So, what's happening with the team and the proposal? Eric: Well things aren't going so great I just can't get seem them, to get them to agree on anything. Michelle: What do they need to get on board? Eric: I could use one of your tactics, and ask more open ended questions.
That way, I could get them to talk more about what the problem is, and find out what's bogging them down. Michelle: Great insight, and what would that do for you that isn't happening now? Well it could allow me to connect better with my team. to inspire them to have more creativity and more problem solving. That way things wouldn't flat-line so easily. >> Okay. Here's the most important thing to notice about future-focused feedback. We can't change the past, but we can influence the future. So, I want to give you a couple of thoughts about why focusing on the future is more effective.
Research shows that when we highlight how people went wrong, it builds defensiveness, because it puts the spotlight on mistakes and shortcomings. But future-focused feedback sidesteps this personal critique in favor of teasing out what's possible and what might be improved in the future. So ultimately, this feedback is more efficient because the ideas and solutions your employees generate on their own. Tend to be adopted with more commitment. It's the kind of feedback that comes from leadership, and inspires leadership.
- Establish a coaching relationship with your employees.
- Demonstrate the cornerstones of coaching.
- List examples of "PowerTalk Practice".
- Describe how to challenge your employees for growth.
- Identify how to manage accountability and give future-focused feedback.
- Align professional goals with company objectives.
- Design stretch opportunities.