Managers now encouraged to nix employee ‘feedback’ to avoid hurt feelings, launch new PC alternative

There is yet another new workplace trend aimed at coddling what appears to be an ever-increasing supply of emotionally fragile employees.

Rather than shaking workers to their very core with scary “feedback” come review time, some managers are now providing “feedforward” so no one misses an opportunity to “grow.”

Insperity in Houston, Texas, is a group that promises “HR that makes a difference.”

Its performance specialist, Karen Leal, told Fox Business that “Feedforward is the counterpart of feedback.”

“Unlike feedback, which is retrospective, feedforward offers constructive, forward-facing solutions so employees can grow,” she explained, adding that feedforward is both balanced and authentic, and never overly critical.

“For instance, a manager giving feedforward could make suggestions about how to handle a project differently in the future, instead of pointing out where the employee went wrong,” she said.

“The concept has existed for years,” according to Leal, and “some managers may already be offering feedforward without realizing it.”

Focusing on the future, she said, will prevent workers from feeling “picked on” for their past mistakes.

“While feedback can certainly be helpful, employees may grow defensive if they feel criticized or ‘picked on’ for past performance,” she said. “Feedforward recognizes employees cannot change the past, but instead emphasizes how they can develop the skills to succeed more effectively in the future.”

According to Fox Business, “Feedforward essentially helps workers visualize their success and map out what needs to be done to achieve it — thereby elevating their potential, the experts suggest.”

In doing so, “managers and employees who were not aware can directly incorporate feedforward to increase individual and team success,” Leal said.

Michelle Reisdorf, district president for Robert Half based in Chicago, Illinois, said the feedforward concept could prove less intimidating to employees who often feel like something went wrong when they hear feedback.

“Feedforward is a gentler way to grow your team,” she said. “Workers don’t get the sense that they have to rehash the past and can look forward to future projects.”

It’s all about helping employees to set goals and giving them the tools to achieve them, Leal said.

“This includes providing clear expectations around the future behaviors that tie to the desired outcomes,” she explained.

Perhaps, but according to Reisdorf, managers are still going to have to find a gentle way to point out their workers’ mistakes.

“While feedforward might be a gentler, less intimidating way to get feedback, growth often comes when we learn from our mistakes,” she noted. “If that commentary isn’t being delivered in some way, shape or form, it doesn’t serve a purpose.”

While the concept may prove effective, it is hard not to see it as yet another way to accommodate the self-defeating attitudes of a workforce that has produced a generation of “quiet quitters” and “loud laborers.”

As BizPac Review has reported, Fox Business previously defined “loud laborers” as those workers who “spend more time talking about their work than actually doing it.”

“Quiet quitters,” on the other hand, are those employees who crumble under burnout and do the least amount of work required of them.

“If you are hearing a teammate voice concerns about their workload, it’s important to flag that for a manager,” Reisdorf suggested to Fox Business in August.

“If you have a ‘loud laborer,’ it might be easier to find out about the issue since they are being vocal about it as opposed to keeping it bottled up,” she advised. “The best advice when it comes to these trends is to keep communication open and set up one-on-one time with your teams.”

“It’s always good to have your finger on the pulse of the workforce,” Reisdorf said, “especially if the teams are operating in a hybrid or remote situation.”


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