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How to Use the SBI Feedback Model [+ Examples]

Discover how to effectively use the Situation, Behavior, Impact (SBI) Feedback Model to give clear, actionable feedback to your team.

By Mara Calvello  •   December 15, 2023  •   7 min read

No matter how big or small a team is, managers and team leaders must know how to give feedback effectively and productively.

Knowing how to provide feedback to your colleagues and team members is crucial—not only to let someone know where their behavior can improve but also to make sure they know what they’re doing correctly.

Several feedback models can be used to deliver feedback to improve team performance or interpersonal dynamics within an organization, and one of them is the SBI feedback model. This feedback model promotes a clear understanding of specific actions taken and how they impacted others, meaning there’s little room for subjectivity. At the same time, this model helps build a collaborative and harmonious working environment, setting the stage for success!

What is the SBI feedback model?

The SBI feedback model stands for:

  • Situation: A time and place where an action or situation occurred
  • Behavior: The actions for which an individual is giving feedback
  • Impact: How the behavior impacts us, the team, or the organization as a whole

When using the SBI feedback model, the first step is to establish some context and define where and when the situation took place, providing a clear understanding. So, during the situation portion, try and be as specific as possible. You can say things like:

  • During the client call yesterday
  • During last week’s all-hands meeting

From there, you’ll describe the behavior you’re giving feedback on. Using the examples above, you may say:

  • “During the client call yesterday, I noticed you weren’t able to answer the questions regarding onboarding.” 
  • During yesterday’s all-hands meeting, I noticed your calculations surrounding the budget weren’t correct.

Finally, there’s the impact step, where you’ll elaborate on how the behavior impacted you, others on the team, or the entire company. It’s best here to use “we” and “I” statements to ensure the point comes across. You may round out the SBI model by saying:

  • “During the client call yesterday, I noticed you weren’t able to answer the questions regarding onboarding. This could damage our reputation and potentially kick things off with a new client on the wrong foot.
  • “During yesterday’s all-hands meeting, I noticed your calculations surrounding revenue weren’t correct. I’m afraid this means other teams think we’re closer to hitting our revenue goals than we actually are.

Give and get feedback as work happens

A healthy and strong culture starts with feedback. Fellow enables your team to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance.

How to give SBI feedback in 8 steps

If you’re interested in incorporating the SBI model into how you give feedback, follow these eight steps!

1Prepare in advance

No matter the type of feedback you’re planning on sharing with a colleague, team member, or direct report, it’s always best to prepare in advance. To ensure you have all the details needed to give SBI feedback, consider using a tool like Fellow to set the stage.

Fellow has the features you need to collect relevant details so you can provide the individual you’re providing feedback to with as much context as possible. You can also use Fellow to create document notes and a comprehensive meeting agenda for when the feedback takes place. This information can be helpful when discussing how to move forward with an improvement plan or documenting the conversation for future reference.

2Initiate the conversation

Next, it’s up to you to initiate the conversation with the person receiving the feedback. When you give feedback, ask your coworker if it’s a good time–and if it’s not, ask when they’re available to meet.

When setting up for SBI feedback, establishing an appropriate time and place is important. If you’re giving this feedback in person, choose a location where distractions will be minimal and where both of you can freely engage in the conversation. You don’t want to be interrupted or distracted by others, and you’ll also want to choose a private location where others won’t overhear the conversation, especially if the feedback is negative.

3Provide the context 

From there, you need to give the individual as much context as possible. This is when you’ll share the when it happened and the where. Describe the specific situation that took place when sharing context, and be sure to focus only on the facts. You want to avoid being subjective and using generalizations when using the SBI feedback model. Instead, hone in on the relevant details so the conversation starts off clear with no confusion.

This is the S part of SBI feedback, so focus on the time and place where an action or situation occurred.

4Describe the behavior

Next, you’ll describe and identify the behavior that was observed. You want to be specific here, while remaining concise and objective and avoiding adding your own assumptions or judgements.

Since this is the B part of the SBI feedback model, frame the observed behavior as something that should be worked on to improve in the future, not a personal characteristic or flaw. This helps the receiver not feel like you’re attacking their character.

5Explain the impact 

Then, explain the impact this behavior had on others and the potential consequences that can result from the behavior. Make sure to touch on both positive and negative effects, if applicable, to share a balanced perspective. It’s important that the individual understands how the behavior connects to the impact.

Since this is the I portion of the SBI feedback model, stick to “I” and “we” statements to help the point come across.

6Encourage dialogue  

You don’t want the conversation around SBI feedback to be one-sided, so always encourage dialogue once you explain each section. The discussion should be an open place for the recipient to respond how they see fit, ask questions, or seek further details and clarification.

Since you want this to be a two-way conversation, both you and the other individual should exchange points of view, look for potential future solutions, and share insights. Active listening and empathy are both important here, as you don’t want the feedback recipient to feel like you’re attacking them, placing blame, or making them feel inferior.

Use a tool like Fellow’s AI Meeting Copilot to automatically record, transcribe, and summarize your meetings so you can actively engage in the conversation without worrying about documenting all your notes.

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7Discuss an improvement process 

Then, you’ll want to come up with an improvement plan together. Doing so sets the individual up for success, gives them a clear path to move forward, and answers any questions they may still have about the specific behavior.

Giving the individual specific actions to take and work towards can help them work through a mistake or negative behavior, learn from it, and continue to grow as an employee.

8Follow up and remain positive 

Once the plan is in place, don’t leave this person hanging! Be sure to follow up with them, remain positive, and help them stay on the path to improvement and growth. You always want to offer your ongoing support, share resources, provide training opportunities, and give any assistance this person may need to continue to improve.

Examples of SBI feedback 

In addition to the examples above, let’s go over two more SBI feedback model examples you can use as you move forward with this feedback framework.

Offering SBI feedback on leadership

During the training session you led yesterday, I noticed you struggled to provide a clear deadline or straightforward expectations on the upcoming project. This makes it challenging for your direct reports to understand how to plan their work accordingly so they can be sure to hit the important milestones needed for this project.

Offering SBI feedback on team meetings

During today’s team meeting, I noticed you spoke over and interrupted several colleagues when they were speaking, asking questions, and sharing their perspectives.  This can make it difficult for everyone to contribute their ideas and comments while also discouraging others from speaking up in the future. 

Offering positive SBI feedback

Don’t forget that the SBI model isn’t all about the negative! It can be used to share praise or highlight a situation where an individual did exceptional work that you’d like to help them build on. For instance, positive SBI feedback can sound like:

“Your organization skills are excellent, and you have an attention to detail that this team has been missing! Perhaps you could help manage an upcoming project we have coming up. I think you’d be a great addition to that team!”

Start using the SBI feedback model today

When done correctly, the SBI feedback model can help deliver constructive feedback in a clear and impactful way. By honing in on specific situations and behaviors, as well as the impact they have, this method of giving feedback ensures the person receiving the comments understands what actions to take to improve in the future. Using the SBI feedback model can also motivate your employees to strive to improve their own behavior and actions!

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