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Feedback vs FeedFORWARD: Our Teams Need One of These

My palms were sweaty. My mouth was dry. How was I going to give this student feedback?

When I was a new preceptor, it seemed easy to give feedback when it was all positive. But then I had my first experience giving really constructive feedback – and now looking back – I don’t think we were every taught HOW to do this well. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t do it very well)

Here’s a framework I like – I summarized what a few experts think:

1. Start with curiosity

There may be a reason behind their behavior

2. Ask permission

May I offer you some feedback on this? It sets the stage; preparing the recipient for what’s coming, and gives them a sense of control in the moment

3. Focus on the outcome you want

If we make it about them, it becomes personal

If we make it about a shared goal, it’s about the team

4. Avoid saying but. Ex: “You remembered to ask about allergies, but forgot about OTCs.

Everything before the but tends to be forgotten/ignored during feedback

5. Ask their opinion at the end

What did they hear? This will confirm if what you said landed.

Another concept: FeedFORWARD

What is feedFORWARD?

It’s basically the reverse of feedback – placing all of the emphasis on the future instead of the past.

Instead of: “You are great at counseling patients.”

Say: “Would you be willing to train the new intern on how to counsel patients?”

Instead of: “When you kept asking him about his diet, he got really frustrated.”

Say: “What are some other ways you can ask about lifestyle?”

Feedback is hard. But if we’re invested in our teams, it’s worth learning more about.

Start your next feedback or feedforward conversation with curiosity and see where it leads!

Until next week,



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