Management Coaching Blog

Manager Tip of the Week: Future Focused Feedback

August 3, 2016

Why would you do something like that? Why didn’t you take care of it like we discussed two weeks ago?

What’s your reaction when your manager asks why you did something in the past? Usually, the first thing we try to do is recall what your manager is even talking about, but who really remembers exactly what we were doing two weeks ago? Sometimes in these situations, you recall events differently than your manager does and feel compelled to take a defensive position. It’s normal to react this way as your natural fight or flight responses kick in. You question your manager on the past issue and they provide their retort. This can go on and on, resulting in wasted time, hurt feelings and a loss of trust.

The problem with asking “why?” is it focuses on the past. What’s done is done and we are all familiar with the negative effects of dwelling on the past. This can be avoided when a manager maintains a future focus. For example:

  • Going forward, please put the data in the spreadsheet using the formulas provided.
  • I noticed you missed a few things we talked about in the initial meeting. In the future, I would suggest taking notes so you can recall it later.

These future-focused phrases allow your employee to hear your feedback and make their own conscious decision to change a habit going forward. Studies have shown that people are more likely to take action and follow through when they make the decision themselves.

Common future focused phrases include:

  • You may want to try
  • I would suggest
  • Have you thought about
  • You may want to think about
  • What would happen if

Using future focused phrasing is a simple way for any manager to save time, increase employee confidence and strengthen their relationships. Questioning the past, on the other hand, can leave your employees feeling anxious, confused and powerless.

For more useful manager tools, contact Managerial Coach, Tom Figiel, for a free consultation at 312-914-1341.

> > Article originally appeared on the Tandem HR website < <

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