Rather than solely getting feedback on what you’ve done after the fact, asking for advice before you act can help you achieve your goals. This is the thinking behind “feedforward” coaching, a tool developed by Marshall Goldsmith.
It’s a simple concept. Pick a goal. Convene a group from whom to solicit advice. Ask each person how you might achieve your goal. (For example, “How might I become a better listener?”) Listen to every suggestion, without judgment. Write down each person’s advice and thank them for their input.
“Feedforward coaching has been well received. It provides a different kind of input. Instead of getting feedback on what you did wrong or what you could do better, the idea is to help me think about how I can reach my goal,” says Julie Wechsler, executive assistant to the president at South Mountain Community College. “It’s future-focused, and people get very engaged in it. Most people say it’s fun. It’s free, and it doesn’t take much time.”
The people whose advice you elicit need not be experts or even know you very well. “We tend to think we have to ask an expert, but actually all of us have really great ideas, and we don’t always need to know a lot about a person’s situation or their past in order to be helpful,” Wechsler says.
For more about this technique, see www.marshallgoldsmithfeedforward.com/.