6 Steps for Maximizing Feedback Through Feedforward

Described by Marshall Goldsmith in his book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, feedforward is a process to solicit help in improving your performance once you’ve gotten feedback on what you need to improve upon. In our coaching process, and in many others, this is done through a 360° feedback assessment. (If you want other tips on how to solicit feedback yourself, Goldsmith’s book has a methods you can employ, or you can read ideas we recommend here.


How to do it:

Once you get feedback, you then follow the feedforward process as Goldsmith describes by:

  1. What do you stink at? Pick the behavior you want to change or improve based on the feedback you’ve received. In our coaching process, this should be reflected in the goals the individual sets as a previous step in the process.
  2. Tell people what you stink at. Describe the behavior you want to change one-on-one with anyone. It could be co-workers, your boss, your spouse, anyone. They do not have to be an expert.
  3. Ask for help. Ask the person for two suggestions on how you could improve in this area in the future. There should be no discussion of the past- only the focus on the future.
  4. Shut up. Listen to the suggestions, take notes if you desire, and thank the person for their suggestions. Don’t comment or judge their suggestions, just thank them.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 with other people. As many as you like, the more the better.
  6. Stop stinking. Once you have a list of suggestions, commit to implementing what will work for you and regularly communicate your efforts to those involved.


Feedforward at first can appear to be a process that leaves one vulnerable, and many people think that others won’t provide honest input when asked. But if done correctly, it can build your capabilities as a leader not only to help improve your performance but engaging in the process will convey humility, which is a trait many people actually seek in a leader they are want to follow.

Have your ever sought someone’s input on how to improve? If so, what were the outcomes of you implementing their suggestions?

Mary Ila Ward

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