Time and Place
When you’re delivering feedback, choose an appropriate time and place. For unstructured feedback, try to give it within 24 hours of the event, if you can. Never give negative or constructive feedback in public -- this can be demoralizing and discouraging.
Give feedback in person when you’re able to. This allows you to read the employee’s body language and gives the employee a chance to discuss the feedback with you. If you’re not able to give feedback in person and have to resort to email, write your email very clearly so there’s no possibility of confusion.
Starting the Discussion
When you begin the discussion, confirm with the person that it is a suitable time and place. That way, you can be sure that you are both able to focus on the discussion at hand.
Begin the conversation by outlining the background, situation, or issue and say what you’d like to get from the discussion. Maybe you’d like to commend the employee for something they’ve accomplished, or perhaps you’d like to see a different behavior than the one they’d previously displayed. Either way, your discussion should have a goal.
What To Say
There are many different models for giving feedback. Here, we’ll give you a few, but you’ll want to decide on your own which approach works best for you and your team.
Situation-Behavior-Impact (SBI) Model
SBI promotes feedback based on identifying a specific situation, describing the observed behavior (and when and where it happened) and explaining its impact on the organization, customer, or situation.
You can read an in-depth guide to SBI, including sample text, here:
Using this model, you’ll give feedback with three points:
- What would you like the person to stop doing?
- What would you like the person to keep doing?
- What would you like the person to start doing?
This is also a great method to use to request feedback from other people. Want to learn more about the origins of this model? This Harvard Business Review article provides more information:
Three Questions for Effective Feedback
When I was in graduate school, Phil Daniels, then a psychology professor at Brigham Young University, taught us about a feedback mechanism he called the SKS form. It was simply a process whereby we would ask others what we should stop (S), keep (K), and start (S) doing, given a particular role we might have [...]
The CEDAR Model (Context, Examples, Diagnosis, Action, and Review) supports collaborative feedback, which allows employees to lead conversations about performance with their managers. In this model, you’ll:
- Provide context about how the behavior impacts the organization
- Provide clear and specific examples of successes and opportunities for improvement
- Diagnose the problem by coming to a mutual understanding of the behavior and future actions
- Set goals and create a plan of action
- Organize a review schedule and monitor successes and milestones jointly
This infographic from Mindtools details the CEDAR Model:
Giving FeedbackBoosting Your People's Confidence and Ability
Boosting Your People's Confidence and Ability "Performance review." Does the mere mention of this event make your heart sink? Employees and managers the world over dread this ritual and therein lays the main problem: we have institutionalized the giving and receiving of feedback.
Specificity is Key!
During your discussion, provide specific examples of behavior to illustrate your point. You can be specific using the STAR method:
- Situation: describe what happened, when it happened, and who was involved
- Task: describe the expected behavior or result
- Action: describe how the actions fell short of or exceeded expectations
- Result: the outcome or impact of the action
Ensuring Feedback is Useful
According to Cabrillo College, there are six ways of delivering feedback that’s useful and effective:
- Ensure that there’s a well-defined reason for giving feedback.
- Focus on description rather than judgment.
- Focus on observation rather than inference.
- Focus on the behavior rather the person.
- Provide both positive and negative feedback, not just one or the other.
- Be aware of feedback overload.
Part of the process of giving performance feedback involves following up (especially for constructive feedback): were the appropriate actions taken? Did the employee modify their behavior as a result of your conversation?
If it’s appropriate, record your discussion (including any action either of you have committed to) in an email and provide a copy to the other person. This is especially important if the feedback is regarding a serious topic, or if what you discussed was complicated.
The feedback recipient may come to you later with questions or comments about your feedback. This is normal, and it’s helpful to schedule a follow-up conversation with employees for these discussions, especially when constructive feedback was given and behavior modifications are expected.
In reviewing the different models of feedback, which one resonates the most with you? Which one do you think would be effective for your supervisees? Do you think that you would use different models in different situations?