How to Give Good Feedback Using the Situation-Behaviour-Impact Technique

As a leader, it’s important to know how to give good feedback, so your team understand your point and know exactly what to do going forward. Unfortunately, many people get this wrong. They say one thing, while what they said has been interpreted another way. We’ll pull things a part a little and get you on the right track with this guide on providing good feedback.

How to give good feedback? The Centre for Creative Leadership developed the SBI technique to help leaders provide effective feedback. It’s built around discussing 3 key points in any feedback / coaching conversation:

1. The Situation – Describe the exact situation in discussion
2. The Behaviour – Describe the specific behaviours observed
3. The Impact – Describe how their behaviour has impacted others

When you structure feedback logically in these three steps, your team will understand what you’re commenting and why you have brought it to attention. Just as importantly, they’ll learn how to do things better next time.

The SBI tool also stops you from making any assumptions, which could naturally cause conflict and broken relationships. The truth is, as a leader, you must be able to provide feedback on what is actually happening. And by using the SBI approach, you’ll instinctively do that.

How to give good feedback to your team in 3 steps

How to Give Good Feedback Using The SBI Tool

Let’s break the tool down so you can use it quickly and effectively.

Step 1: The Situation

You must first define the behaviour and topic in question. Being highly specific and clear is the name of the game. Speaking with brevity creates clarity.

Your aim is to give a specific reference. To help define the situation, try to use the ‘When‘ formula.

Here are some examples:

  • During the 9.00 Meeting which you facilitated today…
  • Your team’s output yesterday….
  • Yesterday, when you provided your figures…
  • I noticed that during your training session, on the slides about…

Step 2: Their Behaviour

In relation to the ‘when’, you now need to be clear on the ‘what’. In our SBI model, this the behaviour.

Simply be specific in exactly what happened. What was it that you want to discuss and improve?

Avoid assumptions, here. Be highly specific and discuss what you observed or the data that you saw.

For instance:

  • During the 9.00 meeting that you facilitated today, I noticed that the team didn’t engage and had nothing to say…
  • Your team’s output yesterday was up by 20% to plan..
  • Yesterday, when you provided your figures, you missed the profitability KPI
  • I noticed that during your training session, on the slides about employee retention, you didn’t provide examples to support your points

Notice how matter of fact these statements are.

Some would say they cut to the chase. The point is, if you want to know how to give good feedback, you must be clear and concise.

And in order to coach effectively, you need to be good a t breaking down small skills, and comment on them in a matter of fact way.

Watch For These Potential Mistakes:

Waffle to try and ease the impact of what you’re going to say – or are unclear on what you want to say. Silence is often better than filling it with waffle. Take a deep breath. Focus on what you saw and be specific.

Make a subjective view on things – It’s not up to you to come up with an answer. You want to merely point to the behaviour and then move onto the next section of the SBI model.

So, don’t say things like:

  • I noticed your team were down by 25% on yesterday’s output, because you failed to plan….
  • Today in your team meeting, your team weren’t engaged, because you’re not including them enough…

Instead, keep it factual:

  • I noticed your team were down by 25% on yesterday’s output.
  • Today in your team meeting, your team seemed disengaged and didn’t take part.

There’s no point waffling on about things. And there’s equally no need to add your view or emotions to it. Just point the facts.

Step 3: The Impact

This step involves sharing how the impact of their behaviour has effected others, including you.

It’s important, because you’re closing the feedback loop and confirming how things have gone. By finishing with the impact, you can help them understand what to do next time to put things right.

Often use ‘I’ to help deliver the impact, and how you feel about the behaviour.

Equally, the way you describe the impact, allows you to open up in discussion as to what to improve.

Rather than dictate, it’s a great chance to deliver the Situation-Impact-Behaviour and then allow them to think through and identify solutions to improve the situation.

Here’s what I mean:

  • During the 9.00 meeting that you facilitated today, I noticed that the team didn’t engage and had nothing to say. I’m disappointed that they’re still not taking part in team discussions. It’s important that they start to take some tasks off you and grow in their roles. What are you currently delegating and how are you doing it?
  • Your team’s output yesterday was up by 20% to plan. I am extremely thankful and proud of you and your team’s efforts. How did you do it?
  • Yesterday, when you provided your figures, you missed the profitability KPI. As you know this is very important to our metrics, as well as the business’. Any particular reason for omitting it? Let’s review it now together.
  • I noticed that during your training session, on the slides about employee retention, you didn’t provide examples to support your points. I am extremely passionate about this, as providing examples helps your students learn better and put things into context.

Notice you’re adding your input in a clear, and to-the-point manner? Notice, too that each statement leaves it open for a general discussion on how to do things better next time?

This approach can be used for every feedback situation, regardless of whether you have to praise someone or indeed provide some negative feedback.

Just ensure you keep things to the point and discuss what you actually see, not what you’ve heard.

Next Steps

Once you’ve delivered your nice and tight SBI feedback, encourage them to objectively think about how their behaviour had an impact. How it affected others. How it affected the outcome, too.

Give them time to take it in and process what’s been said.

Also, encourage them to identify ideas to improve. Use it as a chance to be open and honest… All i view of personal development!

Use this tool, to provide good feedback – to praise them, too. In these situations, encourage them to work out ways to build on their current high standard of work, so they are continuously learning.

Feedback may be scary. But it’s actually vital in being a good leader. And in the case of the situation-behaviour-impact model, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

>