Feedback Forward: Using Constructive Criticism to Proactively Enhance

Team IIBP Business Psychology, Issue 41, Volume 4

Feedback plays an important role in motivating and improving employee’s performance. However, feedback too often leaves employees feeling defeated and disheartened as it purely focuses on the past actions.

Through their study, researchers found that people often don’t learn from feedback as it threatens their ego. During the study, participants were segregated into two groups and responded to factual questions by selecting one of two possible answers. After each question, feedback was provided. Test takers in “Success group “ were told only when they answered correctly, while the “failure group” were given feedback when they answered incorrectly.

Both groups had the opportunity to learn with feedback but when they were retested, Success group made progress than the Failure group. Based on the results of their study, researchers concluded that failure hurts ego and causes to disengage.

The biggest irony of corporate world is that the feedback processes is the basis of Performance Appraisal System with which organization makes all critical decisions. On one hand, employees fear receiving feedback and on the other hand, managers are not comfortable in providing the feedback.

If you are wondering is there any alternative to end this undying irony, the process of “Feedforward” comes to our rescue.

As the same suggests, feedforward focuses positively on the future. Rather than wasting the resources on understanding how things failed in the past, feedforward focuses on success stories of an individual.

Feedback forward draws upon the positive psychology, which strongly believes on the notion of focusing on the positive aspects and strengths as the path towards success and well-being.

In 2010, Kluger and Nir proposed the feedforward interview. Feedforward interview is a tool which can be used for performance appraisal, coaching, selection, career planning and employee development to improve organizations.

In 2015, many organization bewildered when Accenture announced that they are going to abandon feedback based annual performance reviews for its more than 300,000 employees around the globe.

Following the success stories of feedforward by IT companies, pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca changed its yearly reviews process to quarterly check-ins. The company replaced feedback and performance management with “feedforward” and “performance development.”

Research studies showed that employees who had used feedforward approach showed better job performance and experienced positive psychological change, success in meeting goals, and increased self-confidence.

Having known so much about feedforward and its benefits, Interested in knowing how to implement feedforward? Try “IFP” Framework.

Identify the success Story The first step is for an employee is to recall a specific story in which they experienced positive emotions in a win-win situation.

Focus on the Strengths The next step is where the employee gleans on the strengths that led to success in the story.

Plan for future The last step is to construct a plan to incorporate those strengths into future work.

Here, is an example of how feedforward looks in performance appraisal:

The manager would solicit a success story from the employee where they felt proud. Perhaps the employee was a business executive who brought on five new accounts. Next, the manager would assist the employee in recognizing the skills used by the employees for the successful outcome. Finally, the employee and the manager would collaborate on a plan to integrate those strengths into the employee’s goals sheet for the upcoming year.

At its heart, Feedforward helps employees to focus on creating a positive, future- focused approach to move ahead rather than dwelling and regretting about the past.


–> Budworth, M. H., Latham, G. P., & Manroop, L. (2015). Looking forward to performance improvement:
–> A field test of the feedforward interview for performance management. Human Resource Management,
54(1), 45-54.
–> Eskreis-Winkler, L., & Fishbach, A. (2019). Not Learning From Failure—the Greatest Failure of All.
Psychological Science, 30(12), 1733–1744.
–> Kluger, A. N., & Nir, D. (2010). The feedforward interview. Human Resource Management Review,
20(3), 235-246.
–> McDowall, A., Freemann, K., & Marshall, K. (2014). Is FeedForward the way forward? A comparison of
the effects of FeedForward coaching and Feedback. International Coaching Psychology Review, 9(2),
–> Rice, B. (2017). Feedforward or feedback–reframing positive performance management. Human
Resource Management International Digest, 25(5), 7-9.

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