Feedback Circle

One of the key modules of the training program I’ve been co-facilitating recently focuses on providing feedback. When we initially ask participants to engage in a demonstration of how they would hold a crucial conversation with a direct report, their approach goes something like this:

“Um, Joe, I just want you to know you’re doing a really good job and I appreciate all your hard work with our internal customers, but I think you might want to try getting back to them sooner. Does that make sense?”

The first opportunity for improvement here is to do away with the ‘but.’ Offering a compliment immediately followed by a redirection sends a mixed message and undermines both statements. It is more effective to separate these into two discussions with the employee.

For this program, we teach the SBI model for feedback, where S is the Situation, B is Behavior observed and I is the Impact on myself, the team or your business. Using this approach under the same scenario as above, here is a more valuable way to provide insight for Joe:

Compliment – “Joe… do you recall last week when you received that request from IT? (‘Yes, I do.’) I noticed you reached across departments to involve Finance in the process. (‘That’s right.’) From my perspective that made the difference in your being able to solve IT’s challenge, and it made me proud to have you on our team. (‘Thanks!’)

Redirection – “Joe… do you recall last week when you received that request from IT? (Yes, I do.) I noticed you didn’t respond right away and didn’t reach out to any other departments for assistance. (That’s right.) From my perspective that’s why it still isn’t resolved today and I feel like you missed an opportunity to make our team shine.” (‘Thank you. I didn’t realize that.’)

The SBI model – in either situation – opens a dialogue between the leader and her direct reports. Many people struggle remembering to provide the Impact piece; yet, with mastery, SBI becomes a valuable tool for turning observed behavior into recognition or learning moments



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