Whatever definition you give to good leadership, I am sure it includes giving and receiving feedback. During our Livenar with Alena Ipanova, CEO of Synergizer, we’ve talked about what does it mean to be a leader and how can we use feedback in order to be better at leading others and ourselves.

Alena has a very interesting perspective on what is feedback. While some of our attendees described it as “a gift” or “an observation”, Alena believes that feedback can be even more. Feedback is a tool for improvement, it’s a conversation. The conversation doesn’t always involve someone else. Though internal feedback can be often described as a self-criticism or self-development journey, there is still more to it.

One of the methods for providing feedback is the SBI model. Developed by the Center for Creative Leadership, it outlines a simple structure that you can use to deliver effective on-the-spot feedback. SBI stands for:

Situation: you outline the situation you’re referring to so that the context is clear and specific.

Behaviour: you discuss the precise behaviour that you want to address.

Impact: finally, you highlight the impact of the person’s behaviour on you, the team and the organization.

Among different organizational phycology studies, there is a suggestion that employees tend to prefer corrective feedback over positive feedback, but supervisors are often hesitant to give it. Performance meetings can be stressful and misleading: we should always take into consideration that others may not interpret our words the way we planned. If that happens, people get defensive and can’t be objective (which leads to taking things personally rather then acting upon feedback). Some environments do not support employee feedback and managers might put off “giving a talk” until formal performance reviews.

Delaying feedback can lead to a disconnection between the action and feedback itself. Meanwhile, the SBI model avoids this. It’s a great tool to be used every time you give a piece of feedback – not only in annual official reviews. With practice, providing feedback according to the SBI model helps avoid assumptions or biases and generally is precise, clear and specific.

There are three stages of the SBI feedback that can help you structure your conversation to be concise and nonjudgmental.

Create a frame for what you are going to tell the other person – put your feedback into context. When and where did you observe the situation? This gives the other person a specific reference point. For example, you could say: “During meeting with client X on Monday, when you were presenting our sales points…”. Avoid generic terms like “that day” or “lately.”

Describe behaviours that you want to address. You should only communicate the behaviours that you have observed, not general public opinion. Try to skip assumptions and judgmental phrases, as it can weaken your feedback. Once again, stick to what you observed yourself and make it clear that you are communicating your perspective.

After you’ve mentioned to a person the Situation and described their Behaviour in a non-judgemental way, it’s time to show how it impacted you, the team or the organization. Use “I” or “we” to make the point. Generally, avoid the blame game and focus on emphasizing positive solutions, looking for such together.

Providing quality feedback is a nessesary part of leading yourself and others. If you would like to discuss your learnings and insights from the Livenar and create an actionable plan on how to improve the feedback culture in your company, schedule a free Discovery Call with me here.

To contact my guest Alena Ipanova, you can email her at alena@synergizer.se, add her to your LinkedIn network, or check out her webpage.

With all my love and care,


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