As we start the new year I like to first take a moment and have my clients focus on their wins for the previous year. What are you most proud about and why? Your wins can be big or small. It’s important to focus on what went well and what accomplishments you achieved. They could include starting a new business, getting a major client, writing your first blog, surpassing a certain revenue figure, becoming a yoga instructor, successfully changing roles or careers or making time for your family and friends. What did you learn and how will that shape your decisions for 2017?
The next thing I like to have my clients focus on is selecting two or three specific things they want to improve or change. People don’t change until they are ready and decide to make something a priority and commit to it. People will make the change when they realize it actually benefits and improves their own life. The other important element to realize is it’s not enough to think that you’ve successfully changed. We need the people in our life or at work to let us know they see a change. So if you are working on sharing your voice or listening, we can only know that we have successfully made the change when our circle of friends or co-workers sees a difference.
Here is where a new twist on feedback called feedforward comes in. This is a concept that Marshall Goldsmith, an executive coach, developed and it’s very impactful. Feedback focuses on what happened in the past. It focuses on what we are not doing well. Does anyone like to hear what we are not doing well? Most people I know do not like hearing feedback unless it’s positive and even then we are nervous until we know what the feedback is about. Feedforward is a very empowering process where the person making the change selects the behavior they want to work on. They pick 4-5 supportive and non-judgmental people to share the behavior with and ask for two suggestions to help. You are only allowed to say thank you and nothing else to each person who makes a suggestion.
You can do this with your team at work and it goes like this:
* Select a behavior that you want to change
* Partner up with a co-worker and share the behavior you plan to change (ie, I will share my voice in team meetings).
* Your partner shares two suggestions of FeedForward that can have a positive impact.
* Each person in the exercise takes notes on the suggestions made.
* Thank your partner for their suggestions. You can only say thank you and nothing else. This allows each person to fully listen.
* The other partner shares what he or she is working on and receives two suggestions. They thank the person for their suggestions.
* You repeat the process with another partner.
This is an exercise in giving and receiving feedback without making a judgment. You simply thank your partner for listening and sharing a suggestion. You may not like every suggestion but you may also be surprised and receive a few good ideas that you would not have previously considered. Most people enjoy this exercise because it’s forward thinking and involves something that you have control over and can change.
3 Rules to honor for FeedForward:
- People can only say thank you and nothing else when you hear the suggestions.
- Keep this as a judgment free zone. You don’t need to tell your partner whether you like their ideas but rather simply say thank you.
- Each partner sharing exercise should be under three minutes in total with both people sharing.
Once you have shared what you want to work on, you circle back to this same group of people each month to ask them how you’re doing. If they see a change you know you are making progress if they don’t you need to keep working. This is a process so give yourself at least a few months to see progress or more.
Including the process of feedforward into your routine is essential to getting better and improving. We have to involve other people in this process to get their input and learn how we are doing. Even if you think you have become a better listener but your inside circle thinks you still interrupt others, you may lose their respect and have unnecessary conflicts.
This is an easy and fun way to make a huge impact in your life and improve your relationships in all areas of your life. I’ll share three specific things I am focusing on for the new year: fully listening and pausing before I speak rather than reacting, being patient and staying present with each conversation (ie put your phone away)!!
Feel free to share what you are working on for the new year!
Alissa Finerman is an Executive Coach and Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, speaker and author of Living in YOUR Top 1%. She works with managers, C-suite executives and teams to leverage strengths, shift beliefs and achieve meaningful goals. Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked with Ross Stores, Petco, BNP Paribas, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Brookfield Property Partners, Neutrogena, Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Milken Institute, LA Business Journal, Prostate Cancer Foundation, and NBC Universal. To learn more about coaching with Alissa, please visit her website and follow her on Facebook