Giving Feedback

News on 29 January 2020

How to give feedback

Giving employees feedback can be daunting. What if you say the wrong thing? What if they get upset? There are so many things that can stop you from giving an employee feedback. So, we decided to help you out by doing a brief guide on what you need to do.

Firstly, think about why you are giving the feedback. Normally the reason you want to give feedback is to improve a situation or performance. To improve a situation or performance, you need to address this in an appropriate way. Put yourself in that person’s shoes – would you want someone to give you feedback by being harsh, overly critical, offensive, or abrupt? Probably not. I know I wouldn’t. With this in mind, you need to be constructive when giving feedback, but what does that actually mean?

There are 2 feedback models that we like. They are simple, easy to follow, and get the point across.

Feedback models

The first one is called SBI. This is what it means:

S – Situation. Describe the situation with the specifics. Be factual.

B – Behaviour. Describe the behaviour observed (rather than the motivation)

I – Impact. Describe the impact that the behaviour had.


The second one is called BEAR (not that type of bear). This is what is means:

B – Behaviour. Give an example of the behaviour you wish to discuss “I have noticed that you were late 5 out of 6 times for our team meetings.”

E – Effect. You need to tell the employee what effect this has. “When you are not on time for our meetings, the team has to wait until you arrive. This causes the meeting to run later or means that we don’t have time to cover all of the topics”

A – Alternative. At this point you need to explain what alternative behaviour you wish to see. “I would like to see you arrive on time for all meetings. If you need us to change the start time of the meeting, please speak to me and if we can, we will adjust the times.”

R – Result. Explain to the employee

If you use either of these models, your feedback will be constructive and delivered in the best way. What you will have noticed in both of these models is that YOUR opinion isn’t factored in. While your opinion is important, it’s not relevant when giving feedback. It’s not going to help them to improve the situation or performance. 

The only thing that you then need to do is watch your tone of voice and the choice of words. Lots of conflict arises from the way people say things and not what they say. It is really important that you keep a neutral tone of voice. If you become angry or accusatory when you’re giving feedback, the chances are that the employee will either speak to you in the same tone or they will switch off. Either way, the improvements you want, won’t happen. 

How to give good feedback

  • Delivered and received with good intent
  • Biases kept in check
  • Managers leading by example
  • Open and honest
  • Timely and ongoing
  • Actively sought and given
  • Specific and behaviour focused (SBI / BEAR)

 What to avoid

  • Secretive, sugar coated, conflict averse
  • Delayed, saved for formal reviews
  • Held back for fear of reactions or retaliation
  • Vague and trait focused
  • Questionable motives and lack of trust / defensive or dismissive / “gotcha” feedback
  • Assumptions made without testing them
  • Managers failing to model behaviours


If you need to give feedback to your employees and need some helpful guidance note and documents, sign up for our annual subscription here!