In my last post, we discussed the phenomenon of Feedforward. Today, let us look at the procedure. There are two important and complementary reasons for asking for feedforward:
Building and strengthening relationships
One of the most important factors of feedforward is to appreciate and be thankful to the gracious people who accommodated their time and effort for us, irrespective of the fact that whether we are implementing the ideas are up to us. It is not mandatory to implement it. Please do keep that in mind. Now let's look at the steps.
Decide on what you want to improve. The choice is endless.
Choose 5-10 of your key stakeholders. Ideally, the stakeholders need to have experience of you in the context of that goal.
Ask each stakeholder for 10-15 minutes of their time to help you develop your approach to a development programme you’re investing in. Face to face and Skype/Zoom/Google Meet all work well. The phone is less effective as we want to see the eyes of the person we’re asking. We want them to tell us the truth – not be nice to us or fob us off!
Ask each stakeholder to be straight with you. For example say “I’m investing in a development programme to take my coaching to the next level, and offer my clients the highest possible value. I respect your judgement and would like your input. For this exercise please be straight and honest with me.” Check that they are OK with this, and reassure them that it will only take 10 minutes.
Then ask: “If you were me and taking the programme, what would be the top two elements you would focus on to become a great coach that adds real value?” Then keep quiet and listen.
Thank them and write whatever they say down (using their words – not your interpretation of their words.) Your thanks are for them taking the time to think and answer honestly – not for the usefulness of their reply. Only evaluate their suggestions later with your coach.
Ask if you can come back to them if you have any further questions.
Check-in with your coach, going through each suggestion and commit to what action you’re going to take. Please note that less is often more. The coach is there to ensure you evaluate each suggestion fairly, not to suggest what you might do.
We recommend you drop a note to each stakeholder thanking them and outlining what you are going to do, even if you’re not actioning their specific suggestion this time.
Be aware of the key steps in the Marshall Goldsmith stakeholder process: Ask, listen, thank, think, respond, change, follow up.
It’s better than when you start asking for feedforward you choose people who are interested in your success. Later, when you’re more experienced in the approach, you can use the approach with perceived blockers and individuals who appear not to want you to succeed. It may be the first step in building a much stronger and more useful relationship.
By implementing it, you are enabling and at the same time widening your horizons. For instance, if you are apprehensive about facing a group of people, and you received a feedforward to break the shell and engage with them. The skill to go about it is the enabling part whereas coming good in it is the widening of the horizon. So start seeking feedforward, spread your wings and fly high!