Try A New Take On Mentoring, Feedforward

Try A New Take On Mentoring, Feedforward

Executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith has coined the term “feedforward” to describe guidance which focuses on future behavior and allows the recipient to affect meaningful change going forward. In contrast, feedback is past-based and may come across as criticism about events that cannot be changed. Practice feedforward with your mentor or mentee by using the following exercise in your next meeting:

  • Mentees: Pick one area where you would like to experience a change or expand your abilities. Change in this area should make a significant, positive difference for you (for instance, “I need to learn to delegate better” or “I want to improve my writing”).

  • Mentees: Describe your current assessment of your abilities in this area, especially if your mentor is not familiar with your skill level.

  • Mentors: Provide feedforward—give two to three suggestions for the future that might help your mentee achieve a positive change. Do not give ANY feedback about the past. You are only allowed to give ideas for the future.

  • Mentees: Listen to the suggestions and take notes. Do not comment on the suggestions in any way. Once you are back at your desk, think of ways to implement the suggestions you received. Be sure to follow up with your mentor in the coming weeks to share the impact of the feedforward.

The beauty of this exercise is that it can be done with any two people. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even try some reverse mentoring, and have the mentee mentor the mentor.