HR Mavericks

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SBI Feedback

How can you share difficult feedback while eliminating the defensiveness of the receiver? SBI is a simple feedback model that can guide you in structuring feedback so that the receiver is more likely to hear and understand your message.

What Is the SBI Feedback Model?

SBI is a feedback model developed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a well-known leadership development company. The SBI model stands for Situation, Behavior, and Impact. It can be used for both positive and developmental feedback. By following this simple model, anyone can deliver effective feedback.

The Situation

The situation component anchors the delivery of feedback to a time and place to help the receiver understand the context in which the behavior occurred. This is the first step to avoiding vague, ineffective feedback. For example, “When you presented our CSAT scores during the Team Huddle yesterday…”

The Behavior

The goal of this step is to let the other person know specifically how they behaved in the situation you outlined. Behaviors are considered anything you can see or hear and should remain objective. Often people get in trouble for passing off their evaluation of a behavior as behavior. For example, “rude” is a subjective evaluation or judgment of objective behavior you observed. The behavior you observed that led to this evaluation might have been interrupting another person, rolling of the eyes, or looking at their phone. A good example of a behavior statement is, “You talked over Alice while she attempted to provide some additional information from her team…”

The Impact

The final step in this model is to relay the impact of the other person’s behavior on you. This includes thoughts, feelings or actions as a result of the behavior. The impact you want to focus on and communicate is YOUR reaction to the behavior, not how you think a person’s behavior might affect a program, co-workers or team members. A good example of an impact statement would be, “I felt frustrated because I wasn’t able to hear from Alice’s team about their CSAT scores.”

Why Is the SBI Feedback Model Helpful?

SBI is a simple yet effective model for delivering both positive and negative feedback.
  • Easy to remember. With only 3 steps, this model can be easy to remember when you need to give feedback in the moment and don't have time to prepare.
  • Avoids triggering defensiveness. By focusing only on behavior and not evaluations or judgements of the behavior, you help the other person understand what they did or didn’t do that led to the impact.
  • Preparation. When needing to deliver difficult developmental feedback, the SBI model can help you get clarity and organize your thoughts before the conversation. This preparation helps ensure that you share the right information in a concise and easy to follow format.
  • Helps others develop. Using the model can help increase others’ self-awareness and help them repeat or avoid the behaviors to help them achieve the impact they want.

How to Effectively Give SBI Feedback

To deliver effective SBI feedback, follow these steps:

Step 1: Prepare

One of the benefits of the SBI model is it can help you structure your thoughts before you deliver feedback. This is especially important when it's difficult developmental feedback. Quickly jot down your thoughts for these questions:
  • When and where did the behavior take place? (Situation)
  • What behavior did I observe or hear? (Behavior)
  • What was the impact of that behavior on me? What did it lead me to think, feel, or act on? (Impact)

Once you prepare some initial thoughts, you can move on to crafting your SBI statement.

Step 2: Craft Your SBI Statement

This step is an opportunity to get clear with what you are trying to communicate to the other person. Crafting a concise statement will increase the likelihood of the other person receiving the feedback. Write out 1-2 sentences for each SBI component (situation, behavior, and impact).

Step 3: Deliver

Now that you have crafted your SBI statement, you are ready to deliver it. You should not read directly from your paper but use it as a guide while delivering the message. An easy way to start is to say, “I want to share some feedback with you,” or “May I share some feedback with you?” These statements can help kickstart the conversation without the awkward small talk that sometimes proceeds tough conversations. Following the kick-start statement, share your feedback as directly as possible.

Step 4: Ask a Question

Delivering feedback is merely the beginning of a conversation and should not be considered a one-way communication forum. Most effective feedback invites the other person into the conversation with a question like, “How do you see things?” By inviting the other person into the conversation, you allow them to share their perspective. More importantly, this creates a collaborative conversation as you work to help them improve their performance.

Examples of SBI Feedback

Here are some examples of positive and negative SBI statements.

Example 1

“On my first day of work on Monday morning (situation), you smiled, introduced yourself and offered to shake hands (behavior). I felt welcomed at work (impact).

Example 2

“Last week during your presentation on the system revamp when people started asking questions (situation), you quickly responded “Just let me finish and I will answer your questions” (behavior). The group became less engaged and some people opened their laptops to do other work (impact).

Example 3

“Yesterday morning at the office (situation), you arrived 30-minutes after your scheduled start time (behavior). I felt overwhelmed trying to juggle all the incoming calls (impact)."
Adam Maxfield

Adam Maxfield

Adam is an L&D professional with 7 years of experience with expertise in building and facilitating workshops on Leadership, Team Building, and Train the Trainer to name a few. He has also helped build recognition programs, performance management processes, engagement surveys, and unique orientation programs.
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