A Model for giving Feedback

I’ve been asked recently about how to implement a more formal process for feedback in a growing organisation.  A lot of the time these processes are reliant only on a few members of staff who value the importance of people management and can be sporadic at best. For those that are uncertain of giving and receiving feedback providing a model can be a great reassurance and help to build confidence.  Below are some simple steps for a model you can use as a  good stepping off point and getting people more comfortable with the idea of constructive feedback. 

Start with asking “Can I give you some feedback?”

We want the feedback to be effective and understood.  Checking if the person you want to give feedback to is in the right frame of mind will make for better feedback.  If they say “No” or that they’d prefer another time schedule some time later.

‘Situation – Behaviour – Impact’ Feedback Tool

This tool allows the receiver to reflect more on their actions whilst understanding precisely what you are commenting on and why, as well as think about what they need to change.

1. Situation

When you’re giving feedback, first define the where and when of the situation you’re referring to. This puts the feedback into context, and gives the other person a specific setting as a reference.

For example:

“During yesterday morning’s team meeting, when you gave your presentation…”

“At the Squad meeting on Monday afternoon…”

2. Behaviour

Your next step is to describe the specific behaviours that you want to address. This is the most challenging part of the process, because you must communicate only the behaviours that you observed directly. Don’t be tempted to give an example that you feel is “always” the case.

You must not make assumptions or subjective judgments about those behaviours. These could be wrong, and this will undermine your feedback.

For example, if you observed that a colleague made mistakes in a presentation, you should not assume that they hadn’t prepared thoroughly. You should simply comment that your colleague made mistakes – and, ideally, you should note what the mistakes were.

Don’t rely on hearsay, as this may contain others’ subjective judgments. Again, this could undermine your feedback and jeopardise your relationship.  Avoid generalising your view as the view of other “people”, phrases like “People say…’ and “everyone says that…” are avoiding ownership of your feedback.

The examples below include a description of behaviour:

“During yesterday morning’s team meeting, when you gave your presentation, you were uncertain about two of the slides, and your calculations were incorrect.”

“At the retrospective on Tuesday, you ensured that the meeting started on time and that everyone had an agenda in advance. The research you had done really showed, and everyone understood the plan”

Tip:

Aim to use measurable information in your description of the behaviour. This helps to ensure that your comments are objective.

3. Impact

The last step is to use “I” statements to describe how the other person’s action has affected you or others.

For example:

“During yesterday morning’s team meeting, when you gave your presentation, you were uncertain about two of the slides and your calculations were incorrect. I felt embarrassed because of the confusion that this caused. I’m worried that this has affected the reputation of our team.”

“At the retrospective on Tuesday, you ensured that the meeting started on time and that everyone had an agenda in advance. The research you had done really showed, and everyone understood the plan.  I’m proud that you did such an excellent job and put the team in such a good light. I feel confident that everyone has faith in us thanks to your hard work.”

Characteristics of Effective Feedback

The SBI model is just one of many different feedback models that can be used when giving feedback.  It’s a great starting point until you’re more comfortable giving and receiving feedback.  As you do become more comfortable remember that effective feedback must display certain characteristics:

Specific: It should contain specific information rather then generalisations

Accurate: It should be factual and clear

Objective: Feedback should be unbiased and unprejudiced

Timely: It should be given as soon as possible after completion of a task (however, at times it might not be possible and may be delayed to a more appropriate time and place)

Usable: Relate the feedback to goals and strategies so the individual can improve performance

Desired by the receiver: Feedback can still be effective even in those who don’t actively seek it, however those who are seeking feedback will often be more motivated to improve performance

Checked for understanding: Clarify understanding with the individual to ensure they are getting the most out of their feedback

As a company grows making sure we’re effective at giving at receiving feedback will become even more important.  You should aim to use these techniques in performance reviews, 1 to 1’s and when giving interview feedback.  Even better, start using them day to day, it might seem weird at first, but gradually these will become second nature and the you’ll start to see the impact that great feedback can make.