One of the most important parts of being a manager is delivering feedback to your team members. This helps them understand what’s expected of them and most importantly, helps them improve their skills and build experience.
The thing is, delivering feedback can also be one of the most difficult parts of being a manager. Even if you’re someone who is very confident and doesn’t shy away from delivering feedback, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to be very effective at it.
Some of the least competent managers that I’ve seen are the ones who don’t understand that feedback is very personal to someone and that the way feedback is delivered is just as important as the content of the feedback itself. You may have a piece of feedback that is a no-brainer for someone to hear, because it’s a key part of improving their performance, but if you deliver it wrong, they won’t take it on board.
This is why I created this cheatsheet which outlines the key points that you need to consider when delivering feedback:
Today, I want to share a framework for delivering feedback that I’ve used many times over the years. It’s really simple and in certain situations, it will help ensure that you’re delivering feedback in a clear and concise way.
The SBIA framework
The SBIA framework is a slight adaptation to the SBI framework that I use to structure the delivery of feedback.
It stands for:
Let’s look at each one and then we’ll look at a few examples of how you can combine them to deliver feedback.
This is where you describe the situation that has occurred and be as specific as possible about what happened.
Next, you need to describe the behaviour within the situation. What did you observe the individual do? What did you see that made you pause and think about delivering this feedback?
Then you need to describe the impact of this behaviour. What were the consequences and knock-on effects that are important? This goes to the heart of why you’re delivering this feedback, so you need to be very clear about this.
Finally, you should ask for their view of the situation and listen carefully to their response. This isn’t about confronting them and asking them to justify their behaviour, it’s about getting their point of view and being open to their point of view.
When to use the SBIA framework
SBIA is useful for most day-to-day situations where you can recall an event or something specific. It gives you a good framework to recount situations clearly and leads into a conversation to learn more about it.
If you have some time to prepare for delivering feedback, you can use this approach to write things down and plan how you’re going to deliver it. On the flip side, it’s harder to use when delivering feedback instantly unless you’re able to use it as a mental model that you can recall easily.
In the digital agency world, one scenario where SBIA would be useful is when you’re delivering feedback on a piece of work that has been delivered by one of your team to a client. This could be a tangible deliverable such as an audit that could have been much better, or a face-to-face meeting or presentation that could have been improved.
SBIA can work well in this kind of scenario because you have tangible facts and examples to refer to, making the feedback as useful as possible.
Examples of using the SBIA framework
Let’s make things more tangible and look at some examples of how you can use this framework. Below, you can see a breakdown of a single piece of feedback that has all four elements of the framework within it.
You can see that this feedback isn’t particularly long and will be delivered very quickly. You may of course extend this and go into more detail, but you should be able to see how to break things down:
Situation > Behaviour > Impact > Act
During the project, you asked me to provide feedback on the audit the day before the deadline which meant I had to push back other work to give you quality feedback. Can you help me understand why this happened?
Here is another example:w
At the meeting with the client, you didn’t prepare a detailed enough agenda, which meant we didn’t look as professional as we should have. Can you help me understand why this happened?
One of the benefits of breaking feedback down in this way is that you can deliver any feedback in a very structured and concise way. This helps to overcome one of the biggest challenges with delivering feedback which is clarity. Quite often, particularly if we’re nervous about delivering feedback, we can fluff our words or use too many words or even talk very quickly so that we get it over with as soon as possible.
SBIA helps counter this and again, you don’t have to necessarily think of this as a script and you should feel like you can be flexible, but at the very least, it will ensure that you are clear and deliver the key message to your team member.