In today’s corporate scenario, continuous evolution of HR policies has ensured that there is healthy employee engagement and retention. One of the recent ideas to attract admiration of many global HR practitioners is a concept known as‘feed-forward’. With performance appraisals around the corner, there will be growing anxiety among employees across levels on what awaits them in terms of growth in their current organisations. However, in some organisations, a few things have changed lately—they have grown over traditional appraisal system based on feedback and have moved to feed-forward.

Feed-forward is a concept based on group exercise, the purpose of which is to generate ideas or suggestions, based on which an employee can change one’s behaviour in the future and thus achieve positive impact in business results. It is a continuous process focused on future performance—it’s not grading a year’s worth of past events.However, the question arises, is feedback becoming redundant?The fact is that providing feedback has long been considered to be an essentialskill for leaders.

As employees strive to achieve organisational goals, they need to know how they are doing the same. While at the same time once-a-year review is not only too late but often comes as a surprise. Leaders cannot typically ‘judge’ an entire year of work from an individual at one time, so the annual review is awkward and uncomfortable for both leaders and employees. While there is no doubt that annual appraisals are not the best way to judge employee performance, at the same time regular feedback does help bridging the gap on how things could have been done better.

Therefore, a mix of feedback and feed-forward would be the best way to provide insights on how employees can pave a better career path for themselves and make a difference to the team and eventually the organisation.

The feed-forward process allows employees to be more receptive, open and transparent in their communication. Feed-forward can often be preferable to feedback in day-to-day interactions as it improves quality of communicationbetween employees at all levels, thus making the organisation cohesive and dynamic and much more open—one whose employees focus on the promise of the future rather than dwelling on the mistakes of the past. It is definitely the way forward.In the Indian context, adoption of feed-forward will take some time to pick up. It’s a fairly new concept which is slowly being put into use.

Therefore, there will be a level of understanding required by the feed-forward coaches to start using and regularising this process. Some organisations could even be hesitant to deploy such a practice on board before it is universally accepted and followed.

Although feed-forward can make life a lot more simpler, we should learn from our past mistakes through an appropriate and regular feedback system in place, asystem that complements the feed-forward process.

By Aditya Narayan Mishra

The author is president, Staffing, Randstad India

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