Try feed(forward) not feedback.

In a previous career I had a number of people who reported to me. Every year I would have to write a report relating to their performance and a ‘countersigning officer’ would then conduct an appraisal with them for feedback to be given.

11039031 - boss dismisses employee. isolated

At the time I worked with a guy called James who was excellent in so many ways. His attributes ran like a list of positive cliches. If he had a weak area it was that he did not take negative feedback well and was likely to become prickly.

After his appraisal I had lunch with Mike, his countersigning officer. Naturally, as a young manager, I wondered how it had gone.

“Very well”, he responded, “Except for one thing”.

“What was that?”, I enquired.

Mike replied, “When I told him he could not take criticism James asserted aggressively ‘That’s not true’ “.

The ironic smile that flickered across his face told me the story was embellished for humorous effect. Probably been done countless times before. Nonetheless there was an important point somewhere in there. I can’t remember in decades of experience anybody taking criticism (negative feedback) and responding, ‘Thank you, I really enjoyed that and I learned so much from your finger wagging. Can I come back for another b……ing please?”.

Why doesn’t (negative) feedback work?

Negative feedback exists to prove us wrong or at the very least it is taken that way and we often become defensive. (If you doubt this ask yourself how much you enjoy a walk down Memory Lane, when your spouse or partner is reminding you of your past shortcomings.)

Feedback by definition is about the past and used by others to reinforce our feelings of failure. Rarely will it be seen in a positive way and may be uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing for both parties .

Feedforward can be a much more effective developmental tool. Recipients are likely to: listen better; be more receptive; enthusiastic and have more respect for their management team. But how? Future posts will look at how feedforward may have a positive impact and how it can be given.

If you wish to talk more about feedforward call me on 07525 857389 0r email me on


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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